The White House predicted that President Biden’s pardon of everyone convicted on federal charges of simple marijuana possession on Thursday would have an impact on more than 6,500 people across the country.
Biden urged all governors to follow his lead and called for an official reconsideration of marijuana’s federal classification as a Schedule I substance, which is more stringent than fentanyl and the same classification as heroin and LSD.
Although unlikely, a change in marijuana’s legal status would be a momentous reform that would pave the way for considerable adjustments to the federal government’s policy toward the drug.
Reclassifying it, in the words of Tianna Mays, a civil rights lawyer in Washington, would be “a major step in the right direction.” “It would make this a misdemeanor, the same as having heroin. Therefore, we have faith in the actions the Biden administration is taking.
California’s Castroville on September 13, 2021
In the room where marijuana is being produced for drug studies that have received government approval, George Hodgin, CEO of Biopharmaceutical Research Company, is visible. As a result, there may be a completely new generation of medicinal marijuana that has undergone rigorous scientific testing and is administered with the care and accuracy of traditional pharmaceuticals. One of only four businesses authorized for manufacture is Biopharmaceutical Research Company. Los Angeles Times photo by Carolyn Cole
The most substantial efforts Biden has taken toward changing American drug laws are those that many Democratic activists have been pushing for. The actions look timed to increase voter turnout in the midterm elections, which will determine if the president’s party will retain control of Congress, which are taking place next month.
Black and Latino groups have been particularly vocal in lobbying for the decriminalization of marijuana since their communities are disproportionately affected by the enforcement of drug laws.
An administration official who briefed reporters on the plan and was asked about the timing of the announcement, which comes 33 days before the election, said that Biden was trying to keep a campaign pledge after Congress did nothing.
Biden explained his strategy in a White House video and in a series of tweets, saying that “no one should be in jail solely for using or carrying marijuana.”
Biden said, “It’s legal in many jurisdictions, and criminal records for marijuana possession have created unnecessary hurdles to housing, employment, and educational prospects. And that’s before you take into account the racial inequities in who bears the costs. Black and brown people consume marijuana at comparable rates as white people, yet they are disproportionately more likely to be detained, tried, and found guilty.
Biden’s prior silence on marijuana was seen by Democratic pollster Joshua Ulibarri, who specializes in Latino voters, as a squandered opportunity to increase his support among those voters.
This is a further demonstration that the president not only accomplishes his goals but also changes, he added. In addition to doing justice, in my opinion, it will assist vulnerable Democratic seats win in November.
The marijuana reforms weren’t introduced by Biden in person. Instead, the White House announced the news as Obama was promoting IBM’s investment in a semiconductor manufacturing facility in upstate New York.
Biden’s measures, according to Eric Altieri, executive director of NORML, a group that supports full legalization of marijuana, were “far overdue,” and he urged the president to cooperate with Congress to further relax the nation’s cannabis regulations.
According to Altieri, “Since 1965, approximately 29 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana-related offenses—for conduct that most voters no longer believe should be a criminal.”
Democrats who have spoken out the loudest on the subject immediately praised Biden.
According to Chuck Rocha, a specialist on Latino outreach for political campaigns, Biden “has done more in [two] years than I can ever remember the president doing.” Additionally, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania, John Fetterman, tweeted the slogan “We did it, Joe.”
There is no obvious partisan division in the politics of marijuana and criminal justice reform. The First Step Act, which was supported by the majority of GOP members, was signed into law by Republican President Trump to shorten federal prison terms.
The 1994 crime bill, which Biden had co-sponsored as a senator and which tightened drug sentencing and funneled millions of federal cash to police departments, was largely repealed by that law. As a result, the incarceration rate in the country significantly increased.
According to Irina Dashevsky, co-chair of the cannabis legal practice at the firm Greenspoon Marder, Biden’s actions represent a “huge signal” to the country’s marijuana industry in addition to their effects on the criminal justice system and politics.
Despite the fact that more states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use as well as for retail sales, the federal legislation that restricts the use of services like banking and insurance by cannabis firms hasn’t changed.
According to Dashevsky, Biden’s actions indicate that “change is acceptable and probably going to happen soon.” “That’s a lot. Although marijuana will continue to be severely controlled, the situation may be getting less absurd.