August 2023 National News Update: Cannabis Gains Ground in Federal Recognition, Employment, and Public Sentiment

A close-up of a pair of hands holding a jar of cannabis. The right hand holds the jar steady, while the left hand lifts up the product and displays it to the camera.

Each month, Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) offers a convenient roundup of the biggest cannabis news stories and hemp headlines emerging across the nation. Get these updates in your inbox by subscribing to our email newsletter, or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter (now X) to get the most recent edition when it’s published.

Welcome to the latest edition of CWCBExpo’s monthly news roundup, where we delve into the most significant developments shaping the cannabis landscape across the nation. From federal recognition and employment policies to evolving public perception, August 2023 brought industry-advancing headlines. Let’s dive in!

U.S. Senate to allow previous cannabis consumers to work at intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA

The recent approval of a comprehensive defense bill, the Intelligence Authorization Act, has garnered attention for its provisions aimed at intelligence agencies such as the CIA and NSA. The bill, unanimously passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, prohibits the denial of security clearance solely based on an applicant’s past cannabis use.


While Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) previously filed a broader amendment to last year’s version of the legislation to prevent employment at any federal department based on prior or present cannabis use, the provision was scaled back under a second-degree amendment from the committee chairman before being quashed altogether. This year, however, the full Senate has signed off on the bill, protecting workers from losing security clearances at these agencies due to prior cannabis consumption. 


“This bill includes historic bipartisan legislation reforming the country’s broken classification and declassification system,” Wyden said in a press release. “The bill also includes my provision to ensure that cannabis use will not disqualify intelligence community applicants from serving their country. It’s a commonsense change to ensure the IC can recruit the most capable people possible. ”

Cannabis added to U.S. Census as a primary business

The U.S. Census Bureau is updating its economic survey of American companies to include those working and operating within the cannabis industry. While there are no specific questions about cannabis in the 2022 Economic Census, options to select cannabis as a primary business activity are available to retail and wholesale establishments. 

The survey also asks questions regarding the value of cannabis goods and services produced by American businesses. For example, it asks for data on the sales of cannabis-infused foods, beverages, and topicals. This move is anticipated to offer comprehensive insight into various aspects of the cannabis industry, from production and distribution to retail and wholesale establishments. 

Senator reintroduces bill to prep for federal legalization

U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) reintroduced the Preparing Regulatory Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult Use Regulated Environment (PREPARE) Act this month. The bill aims to develop a regulatory framework for when cannabis becomes a federally legal substance. Arriving more than 10 years after legalization in Colorado, the bill’s framework is built upon the many lessons learned by legal states. Specifically, the PREPARE Act-established federal commission would:

  • Advise on developing a federal regulatory framework modeled after state cannabis regulations

  • Consider barriers and suggestions for regulating cannabis similar to alcohol

  • Identify ways to remedy the disproportionate impact cannabis prohibition has had on minority, low-income, and veteran communities

  • Include representatives from relevant federal agencies and offices, individuals nominated by Senate and House leadership, industry representatives, and representatives of state and local governments

“A decade after Colorado pioneered marijuana legalization, Americans overwhelmingly support the same at the federal level,” Hickenlooper said in a press release. “This bipartisan, bicameral framework, based on Colorado’s Amendment 64 Task Force, will replicate our success nationally.”

Poll finds that half of Americans have tried cannabis

A recent Gallup poll has revealed that half of all Americans (50%) have experimented with cannabis at some point in their lives. Although the percentage has only marginally increased from previous years, this is more than double the amount of those who said they consumed in 2013 (7%) and an all-time high in the past 25 years. 

The poll also delved into current trends, with around 17% of respondents identifying as current consumers. There was also significant differentiation by political party, with most Democrats (57%) and independents (52%) saying they have tried it, versus 39% of Republicans. Other notable findings from Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits survey included: 

  • By gender, a higher percentage of men (53%) than women (44%) said they have at least experimented with cannabis.

  • By age, adults 35-54 showed the highest rate of previous cannabis consumption, with 51% saying that they had tried it. 49% of those aged 18-34 and 47% of adults 55 and older said the same.

Stay informed with CWCBExpo

Curated by the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo), these updates offer a comprehensive glimpse into the dynamic evolution of the cannabis industry. Stay informed and engaged by subscribing to our email newsletter or following us on socials to be the first to access the latest insights in this rapidly changing industry. You can also visit our B2B expo this June to connect and network with other industry professionals.  

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