WASHINGTON – For the first time in 234 years, the American president’s State of the Union Address (SOTU) praised cannabis reform efforts, reminding Americans the leader up for reelection believes “No one should be jailed just for using or possessing marijuana.”

During his speech before a joint session of Congress on March 7, President Joe Biden made a concerted effort to promote his pardons and the rescheduling review request currently underway at the Drug Enforcement Administration. His team doubled down on the messaging with multiple social media posts during the address, highlighting the significance of the issue among undecided and unmotivated voters in what’s expected to be a highly contested November election with razor-thin margins in critical swing states. Recent polls show the president’s approval rating at a dismal 42 percent.

No one should be jailed just for using or possessing marijuana.

— President Biden (@POTUS) March 8, 2024

According to Gallup, support for legalization is the greatest, at 79 percent, among those aged 18-34, a key demographic to rally if Biden expects to boost his current approval rating before the 2024 election. 

“It’s a significant moment for the country to hear cannabis rescheduling mentioned during President Biden’s State of the Union speech,” said Matt Darin, chief executive officer at Curaleaf. “This level of public support of cannabis reform at the federal level is long overdue, and demonstrates a strong point of leverage for cannabis politically.” 

According to MarketWatch, shares of U.S. and Canadian stocks rose Friday after Biden mentioned the government’s efforts to reclassify cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. Stock prices were up near the close of the bell for Aurora Cannabis, Tilray, Canopy Growth, TerrAscend, Ary Wellness, Verano Holdings, Cresco Labs, Green Thumb Industries, Trulieve, and Curaleaf.

While many of the biggest businesses in the industry likely celebrated the positive financial movement, former industry giant MedMen appears to be at the end of its rope with multiple reports of permanently closed dispensaries across California and a website supposedly down “for scheduled maintenance.” Calls to multiple storefronts in California went unanswered during regular business hours Friday.

MedMen’s stock crashed to zero at the end of January following the departure of several key executives. If all the company’s California stores are permanently closed, MedMen will have fallen from its peak of operating in twelve states to three.