Biden’s Marijuana Comments At Campaign Event ‘Meant The World To Me,’ CBD Business Owner Who Spoke With President Says

Biden’s Marijuana Comments At Campaign Event ‘Meant The World To Me,’ CBD Business Owner Who Spoke With President Says

When President Joe Biden visited his Wisconsin campaign headquarters last week, Chris Syrrakos caught the president’s attention. The CBD business owner—who had just recently been cleared in a cannabis-related case—was holding a sign in support of the president’s position that “no one should be in jail for using or possessing marijuana.”

Biden seized the opportunity, promoting his popular marijuana pardons and declaring that he’s “taking care” of federal cannabis reform. Syrrakos told Marijuana Moment on Tuesday that the message was well-received by the crowd of supporters.

“When he came out, there was applause. Besides that, it was pretty quiet in the room—until he mentioned marijuana,” he said. “I mean, the room went crazy. A round of applause from everybody.”

To Syrrakos, an activist with the Wisconsin Democratic Party and owner of the hemp company Superstar Buds, it was a defining moment. Having the president single him out “meant the world to me,” he said. Biden also held Syrrakos’s phone to take a selfie with him holding the marijuana-themed sign.

The moment was all the more meaningful given Syrrakos’s own recent experience being criminalized over cannabis. Just last month, a state circuit court judge dismissed a case against him, clearing the business owner of 11 felony cases three years after he was arrested for allegedly selling hemp products that exceeded the lawful THC threshold.

Syrrakos suspects he was targeted for political reasons, with law enforcement in the conservative stronghold of Waukesha County retaliating against him over his activism and participation in protests around issues including policing reform. His home was raided, his assets were seized and his partner, nine months pregnant at the time, was also arrested.

It added weight to the exchange he’d go on to have with the president one month later.

“It was about the most important exchange of words regarding the subject that I’ve ever had with anybody,” Syrrakos said. “And it was an honor to have that exchange with the president about marijuana reform.”

It also represented another example of the administration’s increased attention to marijuana policy reform ahead of the November election, with both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris leaning into the issue in recent weeks as they work to capitalize on the popularity of cannabis, especially within key demographics such as young voters.

That said, as Biden has become known to do—including during his State of the Union address this month—he misstated the scope of his clemency action during his remarks in Milwaukee last week. He falsely equated his pardons to expungements, even though pardons simply constitute formal forgiveness and do not clear criminal records. He also said pardon recipients no longer need to disclose their arrests or convictions on official forms such as job applications, when the Justice Department has made clear that’s not the case.

“I think that a lot of times he believes these things to be true, but he may be mistaken on some of the actualities,” Syrrakos said. What’s more important is that the president is publicly taking these positions and executing administrative reforms in the first place, he said.

“They’ve made progress. It’s a slow process, but they’ve been making progress,” he added. “The train just moves real slow sometimes because there’s a lot of people trying to get on board.”

Whether intentional or not, Biden’s remarks on cannabis at last week’s event could prove especially important in the context of Wisconsin, a swing state he won in 2020 but where he’s now trailing former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, in most polls.

A recent poll found the president’s favorability spiked after people were made aware of the possibility that cannabis could be rescheduled under a Biden-initiated review that’s led the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to recommend that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Harris also made headlines last week after calling on DEA to move forward with rescheduling “as quickly as possible,” calling the current classification of marijuana “absurd” and “patently unfair.”

During a closed-door roundtable discussion with pardon recipients, the governor of Kentucky, rapper Fat Joe and other officials that followed those comments, the vice president also said that “we need to legalize marijuana,” the first time she’s taken that broader position since joining the Biden ticket four years ago.

Marijuana Moment also spoke to one of the pardon recipients who participated in that event, and he said similarly described Harris’s remarks as “very meaningful” and a sign of more to come from the administration as the election approaches.

White House Report Flags Law Enforcement Concerns About Marijuana Legalization For Congress

Photo courtesy of Chris Syrrakos.

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