Biden’s Marijuana Pardons Are Good — Legalization Would Be Even Better

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has referred to as for marijuana to be legalized within the wake of President Joe Biden’s shock announcement that his administration will likely be pardoning hundreds of easy federal marijuana possession prices and contemplating shifting to decriminalize hashish on the federal degree, often known as descheduling the drug.

Whereas Biden’s transfer is laudable, it’s not sufficient to ship justice to individuals who have lengthy suffered beneath marijuana convictions, Sanders mentioned.

“I’ve lengthy believed that marijuana ought to be legalized and people arrested for possession ought to be pardoned and have their information expunged,” he said shortly after Biden’s announcement. “The President’s government motion immediately is a crucial step ahead, however far more must be carried out.”

Sanders’s tweet was a part of a flood of calls from progressive and Democratic lawmakers and 2022 candidates for federal marijuana legalization, which they are saying is overdue to start undoing the a long time of hurt that harsh marijuana prohibition has unleashed on Black and Brown communities particularly.

“Pardoning folks convicted on easy marijuana possession prices & calling for marijuana to be reclassified is welcome information and lengthy overdue,” Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) wrote. “Subsequent, we should deschedule marijuana utterly.”

“Legalize it,” she added.

Whereas the Congressional Progressive Caucus didn’t explicitly name for legalization, it did highlight laws handed by the Home earlier this 12 months to federally legalize marijuana, deschedule the drug beneath federal legislation, and set up a course of to expunge marijuana-related convictions.

Drug legislation reform advocates have additionally referred to as for marijuana to be legalized, for marijuana prices to be expunged and for the drug to be descheduled in wake of the announcement.

“There is no such thing as a purpose that folks ought to be saddled with a legal file — stopping them from acquiring employment, housing, and numerous different alternatives — for one thing that’s already authorized in 19 states and D.C. and decriminalized in 31 states,” Drug Coverage Alliance Government Director Kassandra Frederique mentioned in a press release. “We, nevertheless, hope that the Biden Administration will go additional and totally deschedule marijuana from the Managed Substances Act (CSA), relatively than provoke a course of that might result in rescheduling.”

Calling huge marijuana criminalization a “failed strategy,” Biden introduced on Thursday that he will likely be pardoning folks convicted on easy federal marijuana possession prices, which can have an effect on about 6,500 folks, none of whom are at the moment imprisoned.

A pardon, which prevents folks from dealing with additional punishments for his or her prices, doesn’t go so far as expungement, which might seal the fees from being publicly viewable. Advocates say expungement is important as a result of folks with drug prices are sometimes denied primary wants like housing or face discrimination in job hiring.

Biden can be asking the Well being and Human Providers Secretary Xavier Becerra and Legal professional Common Merrick Garland to start the method of doubtless descheduling marijuana. At present, marijuana is classed as a Schedule I drug, the class that carries the worst penalties for promoting and utilizing the drug.

Democrats, abolitionists and drug legalization advocates have lengthy advocated for descheduling marijuana as a step towards ending the failed battle on medication — and its corresponding battle on the communities it has ravaged.