Biden Administration Stalls on Marijuana Law Reform

Feb. 23, 2022

Reform of federal marijuana legal guidelines has stalled regardless of President Biden’s marketing campaign promise to decriminalize the drug and polls exhibiting {that a} majority of People helps the concept.

The inaction rankles supporters of looser marijuana legal guidelines as a result of the concept has assist from some Republicans and Democrats.

“If somebody like myself and a progressive like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can discover some frequent floor, it begs the query, why hasn’t the president acted?” U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, instructed The Wall Street Journal. “The options are there. It’s only a matter of political will,” he mentioned.

Whereas campaigning in Might 2019, Biden got here out in favor of decriminalization, which might stop folks from being incarcerated for marijuana possession underneath federal legislation and expunge prior legal data for possession. Different candidates, together with Vice President Kamala Harris, supported full legalization underneath federal legislation.

Federal legislation says an individual convicted of marijuana possession could possibly be jailed for one yr for the primary offense and given two to a few years for subsequent convictions, in keeping with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. A big majority of marijuana arrests, nonetheless, are made by native or state police with various penalties.

In the meantime, extra states are embracing marijuana. Earlier this month, Mississippi turned the thirty seventh state to approve medical marijuana in some type. The National Conference of State Legislatures webpage says 18 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for grownup leisure use.

The general public has warmed to the concept through the years. A November 2021 Gallup poll confirmed 68% of respondents favored legalizing the drug.

The Wall Avenue Journal mentioned the impasse within the Senate makes it unlikely any marijuana laws would transfer ahead this yr. Biden could also be involved that advocating marijuana reform would make him look delicate on crime because the midterm elections method.

“I can undoubtedly see the Biden administration rising crime charges and assume it might be a messaging mistake to start to speak about decriminalization of hashish, about pardons and file expungement,” John Hudak, a senior fellow on the Brookings Establishment who research marijuana coverage, instructed The Journal.

Maritza Perez, a director on the Drug Coverage Alliance, which favors altering marijuana legal guidelines, instructed PolitiFact that Biden might reform legal guidelines with out going via Congress.

Perez mentioned the president might order the Justice Division to deprioritize marijuana prosecutions or use his clemency energy to launch folks serving time for federal marijuana offenses. He might additionally assist the MORE Act, which might take marijuana off the listing of scheduled substances underneath the Managed Substances Act and remove legal penalties for manufacturing, distributing, or possessing marijuana.

“Sadly, we have now not seen any steps and even the indication of significant consideration for a step in the precise course on the subject of marijuana coverage reform and the Biden administration,” Justin Strekal, political director of the NORML, instructed PolitiFact.

The White Home instructed The Wall Avenue Journal that hashish coverage is underneath research however declined additional remark.

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