White House 420 messages leave people pondering pot reform

white house 420

The 2024 election cycle is heating up, and cannabis appears to be a hot-button issue this time around. President Biden made history by mentioning marijuana in his State of the Union address. Meanwhile, a recent White House roundtable on reform led by Vice President Harris saw the administration doubling down on weed. Now, social media messages from Biden and Harris on the cannabis high holiday have even more people wondering if change is afoot.

On 4/20, at precisely 4:20 p.m. EST, Biden and Harris sent Tweets reiterating the administration’s stance that no one should be in jail for smoking or possessing cannabis. Both featured graphics with a quote from President Biden on the subject, as well as personalized messages from the pair.

“Sending people to prison just for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. It’s time that we right these wrongs,” Biden’s message read.

Vice President Harris shared a similar sentiment, writing, “Nobody should have to go to jail for smoking weed. We must continue to change our nation’s approach to marijuana while reforming the justice system so it finally lives up to its name.”

Biden posted a follow-up later that day, “urging all governors to pardon prior state offenses of simple possession of marijuana.”

Despite the assertions that possession and consumption of cannabis should not lead to incarceration, the White House has not enacted federal reform. President Biden ordered a review of the plant’s Schedule I status in August 2022, and the Department of Health and Human Services later recommended a move to Schedule III. The debate is currently in the hands of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has the ultimate authority.

Meanwhile, several bills designed to decriminalize marijuana and enact banking protections for regulated operators have been introduced in Congress—none of which have made it to floor votes.

When asked about the disconnect at a press conference the day before 4/20, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated the administration’s message:

“Look, on decriminalization, the president has been very, very clear he doesn’t believe that anyone should be in jail or be prosecuted just for using or possessing marijuana. He continues to say that. He believes that.”

There’s talk that White House is using cannabis to court young voters, a key demographic in the upcoming election. However, it remains to be seen whether the 420 Tweets are purely posturing or if they will lead to significant change.

rachelle gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist, Emerald Cup judge, Budist critic, and editor of GreenState.com. She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter