As part of what his administration is calling a three-step plan, President Biden announced on Thursday that he is pardoning thousands of people with federal convictions for “simple possession” of marijuana. This is part of an effort to end the nation’s “failed approach” to criminalising the drug, according to the administration.
As I have said during my presidential campaign, no one should be imprisoned for merely smoking or owning marijuana, according to Biden. Too many lives have been ruined by locking individuals up for having marijuana, and this is for an offence that many states no longer have laws against. Additionally, criminal records for marijuana possession have created unnecessary hurdles to possibilities in job, housing, and education. Additionally, despite the fact that white and Black and brown individuals consume marijuana at comparable rates, Black and brown people are disproportionately arrested, prosecuted, and convicted.
According to Biden, he has instructed Attorney General Merrick Garland to create an administrative procedure to grant the pardons to the estimated 6,500 eligible people.
There are thousands of people who have had past federal convictions for marijuana possession, and as a result, they might not be able to get jobs, housing, or prospects for further education, according to Biden. “My action will lessen the side effects resulting from these convictions,”
The president is requesting the same thing from the governors of all 50 states.
Biden stated, “No one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either. Just as no one should be in a federal prison purely due to the use of marijuana.”
Additionally, he is requesting that Garland and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra “expeditiously evaluate how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.”
Currently, marijuana is classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which is reserved for the most dangerous drugs, such as heroin and LSD. It is even more hazardous than fentanyl and methamphetamine.
Biden said, “Too many lives have been upended because of our misguided attitude to marijuana. “We need to make these wrongs right,”
Over the past several decades, there has been growing popular support for marijuana legalisation in the US, which has increased pressure on the Biden administration to take action.
A bill to decriminalise the substance was proposed earlier this year by Senate Democrats under the leadership of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
There are now 19 states and the District of Columbia where marijuana usage is allowed for recreational purposes.
More than two-thirds of Americans (68%) support legalising marijuana, matching the record high set a year ago, according to a recent Gallup poll. Almost nine out of ten Black Americans, according to a Pew Research study published in June, support some kind of legalisation (57% said the drug should be allowed for both medicinal and recreational use, while 28% said it should just be permitted for medical use).
A 2020 research from the American Civil Liberties Union detailed the racial gap in cannabis-related arrests, which is another argument in favour of legalisation.
Additionally, a Gallup poll conducted in August revealed that more Americans now claim they use marijuana than cigarettes, a first in the poll’s history.
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