The White House has kept quiet about President Joe Biden’s personal views on the Justice Department’s recommendation to reschedule marijuana, a move initiated by a review he ordered. During a press briefing on Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre sidestepped questions about Biden’s stance on the DOJ’s plan to shift cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Jean-Pierre stated the administration’s intention to let the review process play out independently, emphasizing that the president believes no American should be jailed just for possessing marijuana. However, she carefully avoided commenting directly on the administration’s position regarding the specific proposal to reschedule cannabis.

This is not the first time the press secretary has avoided commenting on the matter. Last week, she mentioned that the review the president directed is part of fulfilling a pledge he made to voters during the 2020 election campaign. President Biden has already issued two rounds of mass pardons for individuals convicted of federal marijuana possession offenses, but a Schedule III reclassification would not legalize cannabis or release those still incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes.

It is worth noting that during his presidential campaign, Biden pledged to move cannabis to Schedule II, which is a stricter category than what his administration has proposed. Nonetheless, Jean-Pierre reiterated that the president’s stance on the issue is the reason he directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Justice Department to review the rescheduling of marijuana.

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The White House has been notably elusive about where things stand with the marijuana rescheduling proposal. While Jean-Pierre said it was still with the DOJ, the Justice Department has already wrapped up their review. It’s likely that the proposal has been passed along to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for a closer look, before it goes public in the Federal Register for everyone to weigh in.

In a recent committee hearing, the DEA’s chief was cautious about discussing the agency’s recent steps toward rescheduling marijuana, pointing out that the rulemaking process is still unfolding and it wouldn’t be proper to comment at this stage.

The lack of transparency surrounding the administration’s stance on marijuana rescheduling has drawn criticism from advocates and lawmakers who believe that the public deserves to know where the president stands on this critical issue. Some have argued that the administration’s reluctance to take a clear position on rescheduling is a missed opportunity to show leadership and build momentum for more comprehensive cannabis reform at the federal level.

As the nation awaits further developments, it is clear that the Biden administration is taking a cautious approach to the issue of marijuana rescheduling. While the president has taken steps to address the consequences of marijuana-related convictions, the White House remains guarded about his personal stance on the matter. As the review process continues, the public and lawmakers alike will be closely monitoring any updates or announcements from the administration regarding the potential rescheduling of cannabis.