In the year since Joe Biden became president of the United States, he hasn’t fulfilled his campaign promises on cannabis, leaving Americans pessimistic that he will accomplish drug policy reform in his second year.
On Thursday, a poll conducted by YouGov America asked 1,500 Americans how they felt about the Biden administration fulfilling its campaign promises in 2022 — the outlook isn’t great.
When it comes to decriminalizing cannabis federally, the majority expressed little faith that the Biden administration will fulfil its promise. Nearly half answered that no change will happen and 14 per cent thought only a little change was likely, compared to the 16 per cent who saw either a lot or at least some change was possible this year.
“While President Biden has said he supports the decriminalization of marijuana, the truth is that along as marijuana remains on the federal drug schedule, harsh criminal penalties will apply and send people to prison,” says Maritza Perez, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of national affairs.
“If Biden wants to decriminalize marijuana, he should support removing marijuana from Schedule 1 and finally legalizing the plant. But he has not even supported the release of people in prison for marijuana offences so our hopes are not high,” Perez tells Mugglehead by email.
A congressional report released in November outlined several avenues the Biden administration could take to end cannabis prohibition.
“Although the president may not unilaterally deschedule or reschedule a controlled substance, he does possess a large degree of indirect influence over scheduling decisions,” reads the report from the Congressional Research Service.
Despite the president promising to decriminalize pot and expunge records, lawmakers and advocates calling for policy reform and poll after poll showing support among Americans for cannabis legalization, the Biden administration hasn’t acted yet.
Meanwhile, congressional bills aimed at tackling cannabis reform federally haven’t been successful.
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On a state level, policy change has been more successful, given that most states have adopted pot programs in some form, but state decriminalization is still impacted by federal law.
Regardless of state legalization efforts, all “unauthorized activities” involving weed are federal crimes anywhere in the U.S. as long as federal prohibition remains in place.
However, erasing cannabis records has been included in some state decriminalization laws, and lawmakers have filed a bill to incentivize municipal and state governments to expunge weed records.