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Biden Proposes Sweeping Marijuana Reform

The President promised to pardon those convicted for simple possession and called for a review of current cannabis laws.
07 October 2022
2 min read
Biden Proposes Sweeping Marijuana Reform

President Biden made a statement on Thursday calling for sweeping reform of the country's marijuana policy. In the last election cycle, he was the only democratic candidate running for the president’s office who opposed cannabis legalization. However, as his first term is nearing its end, he re-thinks his stance on the matter and proposes a radical change.

A Blanket Pardon for All Simple Possession Offenders

The first measure proposed by the President is to give pardons to all low-level marijuana offenders whose only crime was simple possession. It is within Biden’s authority to immediately pardon all of the thousands of federal convicts. Moreover, he urges governors to do the same for those serving their time for similar crimes in state prisons.

According to the President, this reform is long overdue as the simple possession of cannabis isn’t a serious enough offense to ruin the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Not only are their lives uprooted by prison sentences, but they are also later denied jobs, education, and housing, and suffer other forms of discrimination.

Biden stressed that although marijuana is consumed by both the White majority and ethnic minorities at practically similar rates, Black and brown communities bear the brunt of the war on drugs the most. Their rates of arrests and incarcerations are much higher than for Whites.


Biden Proposes Sweeping Marijuana Reform: A collage of handcuffs and a cannabis leaf

Marijuana arrests and incarcerations are a question of social justice and racial equality.

A Call for Revision of the Laws

However, clemency for low-level offenders is just the first step. The goal is not to process them through the judicial and penitentiary system in the first place. To this end, he proposed that government agencies review the current scheduling of the cannabis plant and its derivatives.

As of now, cannabis remains in Schedule I – the most strict category of controlled substances – alongside heroin while such potentially dangerous drugs as fentanyl and methamphetamine are in a less restrictive Schedule II. It’s worth noting that it’s these two substances that are fueling the current deadly overdose epidemic in the United States while it’s technically impossible to die from cannabis consumption.

However, while stressing the need to reform the outdated and failed cannabis policy, Biden also said that limitations on underage use of the substance as well as restrictions on marketing and trafficking should remain in place.

 

07 October 2022