United States President Joe Biden said his administration is dropping prior federal offences for cannabis possession, pushing other state governments to do the same and reviewing the illicit status of the plant.
This Wednesday, President Biden released a statement on cannabis reform in the United States announcing the three steps and emphasizing how no one should be in jail because of using or having pot.
“Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit,” said POTUS Joe Biden in a statement.
He added that criminal records for marijuana possession have also placed unnecessary barriers to people when it comes to employment, housing and educational opportunities, in particular, people of colour.
“And while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
Biden said he has directed the Attorney General to develop an administrative process for the issuance of thousands of pardon certificates to people who have criminal records. He also urged governors to do the same.
He asked the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to start reviewing how cannabis is scheduled under federal law which is currently considered among the most dangerous substances under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
Finally, President Biden said that even if legislation changes, regulations around trafficking, marketing and underage sales should stay in place.
“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs,” Biden said.
First: I’m pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession. There are thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My pardon will remove this burden.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 6, 2022
The drug policy non-profit NORML released a statement in response to Biden’s announcement and said that the efforts taken by the president were long overdue.
“For nearly two years, NORML has called upon the Administration to fulfill the president’s campaign promise to provide relief to those stigmatized with a low-level cannabis conviction,” NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri said in a statement.
We are pleased that today President Biden is following through on this pledge and that he is also encouraging governors to take similar steps to ensure that the tens of millions of Americans with state-level convictions for past marijuana crimes can finally move forward with their lives,” Altieri added.
According to NORML, since 1965, nearly 29 million Americans have been arrested for pot-related violations. The organization suggests the administration works collaboratively with other Congressional leadership to fix criminalization laws.
Nearly half of voters now agree that legalizing marijuana ought to be a priority for Congress, and such action can only be taken by descheduling cannabis and repealing it from the US Controlled Substances Act — thereby regulating it in a manner similar to alcohol,” said Altieri.
F*CKN DO SOMETHING: More than four in ten voters (44 percent) said that it should be either a “top priority” or an “important priority” for Congress to “pass a bill to legalize marijuana.” https://t.co/HqY23YRHzy
— NORML (@NORML) October 6, 2022
Some Canadian companies think this announcement and the redirection of the administration is a potential game changer for the industry.
“For the first time ever the President of the United States is putting his personal political capital behind meaningful cannabis reform,” said Omar Yan Khan, Corporate and Public Affairs Vice President at High Tide Inc. (Nasdaq: HITI) ( TSXV: HITI) (FSE: 2LYA).
“Federal de-scheduling would open the doors for a Nasdaq-listed company like High Tide to begin selling cannabis in legal US states without the fear of being delisted,” Khan added.
Big cannabis news out of the US. @POTUS announces:
1. Pardon of prior Federal offenses for simple possession.
2. Urges all Governors to do the same with state offenses.
3. Asking Secretary of HHS and AG to initiate process to review how cannabis is scheduled under federal law.
— Omar Yar Khan (@OmarYKhan) October 6, 2022