President Biden’s 2023 Budget Rejects Marijuana Commercialization

(Alexandria, VA) – Sticking to campaign promises, President Biden’s new budget, released minutes ago, rejected marijuana commercialization in several major ways. It does not extend Justice Department protections to legal marijuana states, meaning federal resources can still be used to enforce marijuana laws. Additionally, the budget does not give the District of Columbia latitude to legalize marijuana sales outright, and the budget allocates significant funds toward dismantling marijuana traffickers on public lands. Finally, the budget sets aside more money for drug prevention than ever before, with a 37% increase from 2022. And funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has been increased. The overall “drug budget” is up $3 billion from the 2022 enacted amount.
“Legalization advocates hoping for an ally in the President will be very disappointed,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former Obama Administration senior advisor and President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “The budget released today does not extend protections for states violating federal laws around marijuana, nor does it give Washington, DC the authority to legalize, something many thought would happen because of the overall Democratic priority for DC autonomy in policy matters generally. We applaud President Biden, ONDCP Director Gupta, and all of the administration officials who pushed out the pot lobbyist influence.”
President Biden has long opposed the legalization of marijuana. While running for President he was one of the only candidates opposed to the idea. Data show voters do not place marijuana legalization as a high priority policy item.
“The Administration should also be applauded for reasserting its commitment to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a vital component in the Executive Office of the President. Through ONDCP’s leadership, prevention dollars are going up higher than ever before, and the Administration has dedicated itself to a balanced drug policy of supply and demand reduction. Though we are still calling for ONDCP’s re-elevation to cabinet status, these are all good signs.”