“Better late than never!”
That’s how Trulieve (TCNNF) CEO Kim Rivers reacted to President Biden’s marijuana pardons on Thursday, more than 18 months into his term. The president pardoned everyone convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law.
The pardons apply to about 6,500 people who were convicted on federal charges and thousands more who were convicted in the District of Columbia.
"Well, I mean, better late than never is what I would say," Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers told Yahoo Finance. "And I'm really thankful that President Biden did step up and fulfill one of his campaign promises which was, of course, as he stated early on, that no one should be in jail for cannabis use or possession."
In addition to the pardons, Biden also urged governors to follow his lead for those convicted on state charges of simple possession. Rivers said she's “very hopeful" governors will follow suit at the state level considering there are more individuals incarcerated at the state level for possession.
"And so hopefully, this will start a movement there," she added.
Biden is also directing his Heath and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to expedite a review of whether marijuana should continue to be listed as a Schedule I substance, as is heroin.
When asked about the review, Rivers referred to it as “historic and monumental."
“I think we can all agree that [Schedule I for marijuana] is simply laughable. There are millions of Americans who use cannabis legally under state programs today for health and well-being and recreationally as an alternative to alcohol," she said. "And so certainly, it sends a strong signal that this administration is taking proactive steps to reexamine how this country has categorized marijuana historically."
Rivers said cannabis stocks had been hammered this year prior to the news, most seeing their market cap cut in half. Due to the lack of federal action, Rivers said “the sector has been held back."
"I think that coming into a Democratic-controlled House and Congress, coupled with a presidency, who ran on promises of cannabis reform, the sector has been stagnated and waiting for a substantive step forward, which I think was provided today," Rivers said.
Rivers, however, could not definitively say she’s more optimistic about the prospects of legalization, however
"I can tell you that in terms of full-blown legalization, again, that is going to take some work," she said. "We do need to make sure that it is a thoughtful program that is— does ensure that folks who are currently utilizing cannabis are able to continue."
But Rivers is hopeful that this move "is the first of many steps to come."