President Joe Biden Nominates Transgender Cannabis Advocate, Dr. Rachel Levine, as U.S. Assistant Health Secretary

Dr. Rachel Levine

President Joe Biden’s stance on cannabis has waived quite a bit since referring to the plant as a gateway drug back in 2010

While the newly inaugurated President stands strong in his support for medical cannabis, his ongoing opposition to recreational use raises concerns for advocates hoping for federal legalization. 


Trailblazer and Activist, Dr. Rachel Levine

His new pick for U.S. Assistant Health Secretary, however, presents promise for the cannabis community. Biden’s nominee, Dr. Rachel Levine, who will play a leading role in the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is a strong cannabis advocate who currently serves as Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary. 

In 2019, Levine notably approved of anxiety disorders and Tourette syndrome as serious medical conditions to be added into Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis eligibility list. 

Levine also vocally backed Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s request to legalize adult-use cannabis in 2020. 

Making history as the first openly transgender Senate-confirmed official, Levine is also a public speaker and author who focuses on issues including the opioid crisis, eating disorders, and LGBTQ medicine

“Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Biden said in a statement. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”


“Well Versed in the Science and Promise of Medical Cannabis…”

The choice received support from the Pennsylvania-based American Trade Association of Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH), which called her “a trailblazer who successfully guided the implementation of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program.”

“Pennsylvania is now one of the quickest growing and most consequential medical marijuana markets in the country in large part due to Dr. Levine’s work,” ATACH noted in a statement. “Further, Dr. Levine is well versed in the science and promise of medical marijuana and will be an important voice in helping shape the Biden administration’s marijuana policy.”

President Biden has also nominated former prosecutor and civil rights activist, Vanita Gupta, as Associate Attorney General. She favors cannabis legalization and has strongly condemned harsh criminalization policies for non-violent drug offenses.

These nominees could play a significant role in industry reform and the administration’s approach to regulations. Be sure to stay tuned for updates as the President continues to confirm his nominations

Emerald contributor since June 2019


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