Former Obama official joins National Cannabis Roundtable

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A former member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet has joined forces with a national cannabis trade association, adding yet more political star power to a marijuana-reform advocacy group.

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under Obama, will serve as an honorary co-chair of the National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR), the group said in a news release.

Sebelius, a Democrat and former governor of Kansas, is the second high-ranking politician to align with the Washington DC-based NCR.

Republican John Boehner, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, joined the group in 2019 as an honorary co-chair.

Sebelius said in the release that getting Congress to pass federal marijuana reform “will require a holistic approach.”

She also emphasized that federal changes must incorporate both business interests and social justice in ways that “keep in mind how policy affects real people.”

““I’m excited to work with the Roundtable and Speaker Boehner to help shape the important debates to come,” Sebelius said. “Together, I am confident we can make significant progress in the 117th Congress and beyond.”

Boehner referred to Sebelius as a “great partner,” and NCR Chair Charlie Bachtell of Chicago-based marijuana company Cresco Labs said she brings a “unique set of tools” to the table.

However, it’s noteworthy that the NCR is not part of a recently announced coalition, the U.S. Cannabis Council, which also plans to be vocal proponents of federal reform.

The U.S. Cannabis Council is comprised of several trade associations and advocacy groups.