The federal government may classify cannabis as one of the most dangerous drugs in the world, but that fact apparently doesn't stop federal agents from accompanying the president's relatives on weed shopping trips.
Last month, the Daily Mail published a banal story about President Biden's daughter-in-law Melissa Cohen buying groceries in Malibu. After taking great care to photograph Cohen's outfit and freshly-purchased bananas, the paparazzi followed her to 99 High Tide, a legal cannabis dispensary on the Pacific Coast Highway. And as she headed back to her car, the watchful photographer snapped a picture of her leaving the dispensary with a small, unidentifiable purchase in her hand.
Adult-use cannabis is entirely legal in California, so there's no reason to question Cohen's decision to take advantage of this freedom. But throughout the trip, she was accompanied by an escort that the Daily Mail identified as a Secret Service agent. As the wife of the president's son, Hunter Biden, Cohen is entitled to Secret Service protection, but the media was quick to point out the hypocrisy of using taxpayer money to provide security for weed shopping trips when cannabis remains federally illegal.
The Daily Mail's story has not been fact-checked, and it's entirely possible that Cohen might have bought CBD tincture, smokable hemp flower, or other federally-legal products at that weed shop. Regardless, the situation highlights the discrepancy between the federal government's acceptance of statewide adult-use legalization and its refusal to adopt even the most modest cannabis reform proposal.
Since the Obama Administration, government officials have largely chosen to ignore the fact that nearly every US state has now legalized medical or adult-use cannabis. Congress has largely managed to keep federal law enforcement from raiding state-legal weed companies, but federal prohibition still interferes with critical cannabis research, veterans' access to essential medicine, and legal weed businesses' ability to open accounts with banks or other financial institutions.
Congress is finally warming up to the idea of cannabis reform after decades of advocating for failed War on Drugs policies. Lawmakers have recently advanced three comprehensive bills that would entirely end the federal prohibition of cannabis, along with simpler proposals that would incrementally relax unnecessary restrictions. The president has continued to reiterate his resistance to full legalization, though, and his administration has interfered with many efforts to enact even modest change.
Biden has also been harshly criticized for failing to make good on his campaign promise to free people who are serving time for federal cannabis crimes. The White House is actively working to exchange Brittney Griner, the WNBA player arrested for bringing weed into Russia, for a notorious arms dealer — but the administration is doing nothing to help the tens of thousands of people who are imprisoned on American soil for nonviolent weed crimes.