The presidential debate may have helped marijuana

The presidential debate has dominated the headlines for nearly two weeks… but is marijuana the real winner?

In a break with tradition, the two presidential candidates agreed to a new debate format moderated by CNN. The Commission on Presidential Debates previously ran the broadcast, but the Republican and Democratic frontrunners opted for a new, untested format for a 90-minute live debate. Since the June clash, the outcome has continued to be talked about in online media and in person. But in a surprise twist, the presidential debate may have helped marijuana – making it the night's winner.

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After promising to do more for the marijuana industry, the Biden administration waited until nearly the final year of its term to make a big move. In late 2023, he encouraged federal agencies to consider reclassification. The Federal Drug Agency (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended placing cannabis in Schedule III, with Schedule III drugs defined as drugs with moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence (Schedule III drugs include ketamine, anabolic steroids, and testosterone). The decision now rests with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which isn't exactly the biggest fan of it.

This rescheduling will have a significant impact on state-legalized cannabis businesses and consumers. That's the key to marijuana's success. About 85% believe marijuana should be legal in some form, but Congress and the Biden administration have been slow to act. But with key young voters who align weed with political and economic issues… it's an easy win.

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Although the process is slowly moving forward, uncertainty remains. The DEA is currently in a feedback phase. The DEA is not overly enthusiastic and some members of Congress have lobbied against the change. What is striking is that the medical community supports the rescheduling.

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Once the DEA publishes its proposed rule, it will be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget (“White House”) and, if approved, will undergo a public comment period. Specifically, the DEA could reclassify cannabis by issuing a final order and bypass the notice and comment period, allowing the change to take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The current administration needs to make big gains with younger voters and demonstrate strength and relevance, which could give him and the Vice President more resolve.

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