Biden Selects Pro-Cannabis Legalization Advocate to Head the Department of Health and Human Services

Cannabis News Update January 25, 2021

Today in the world of cannabis: President Biden selects a pro-cannabis legalization advocate to head the Department of Health and Human Services, One of the First Big Tobacco Companies to join the Cannabis Industry is Backing Out, and Jay-Z launches a million fund for minority cannabis businesses.

The Morning Buzz presented by TRICHOMES brings you late-breaking news that tells you what’s happening within the cannabis industry.

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** First up: In a report by Marijuana Moment, President Biden has tapped numerous cannabis legalization advocates to work in the administration, including their pick to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania state health secretary, received the nomination to lead the HHS. The Biden transition team noted Levine’s ties to medical cannabis in a press release.

“In addition to her recent posts, Dr. Levine is also an accomplished regional and international speaker, and author on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders, and LGBTQ+ medicine,” Levine’s official biography states.

While during his presidential campaign, then candidate Biden called for the rescheduling and decriminalization of cannabis along with cannabis record expungements, they did stop short of expressing support for federal recreational cannabis legalization, making the mention of cannabis in Levine’s official biography is particularly notable.

Biden Transition Team Highlights Top Health Pick’s Medical Marijuana Work

** And next: Hemp Industry Daily reports The first Big Tobacco company to join the hemp and cannabis industries is getting back out.

Pyxus International, one of the world’s largest tobacco suppliers, said last week that it will focus on its more profitable tobacco and liquid nicotine products after filing for bankruptcy in June.
Based in Morrisville, North Carolina, Pyxus was growing hemp in the U.S. and cannabis in Canada. But the company was hard hit by declining tobacco consumption and coronavirus-sparked supply disruptions.
Pyxus’ Canadian subsidiaries, Figr Brands, were not part of the initial bankruptcy filing but have since filed for bankruptcy protection in that country.
“We maintain our belief that there is value in FIGR, and its growth can be accelerated with the right capital structure and partner,” Pyxus CEO Pieter Sikkel said in a statement.
Pyxus, formerly Alliance One International, was part of the influx of Big Tobacco and Alcohol into the cannabis industry.

First Big Tobacco cannabis player backs out after bankruptcy

** Last up: In a report by New York Daily News, rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z has announced the start of a million fund aimed toward assisting minority business owners join the cannabis industry. In October 2020, Jay-Z launched his own cannabis line, Monogram.

While cannabis consumption among white and Black populations is roughly equal, Black people are nearly 4 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis offenses, according to a study by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). At the same time, white people own over 80% of cannabis businesses, according to a 2017 analysis.

“It’s really unbelievable how that can happen,” Jay-Z, whose legal name is Shawn Carter, told the Wall Street Journal. “We were the ones most negatively affected by the war on drugs, and America has turned around and created a business from it that’s worth billions.”

According to a press release, the funds will be allocated to “minority-owned and Black-owned cannabis businesses and [contributions] to the effort to rectify the wrongs of prohibition.”
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