Biden Administration Stalls on Marijuana Regulation Reform

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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 displaying {that a} majority of People helps the thought.

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

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

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

Federal regulation says an individual convicted of marijuana possession might be jailed for one yr for the primary offense and given two to 3 years for subsequent convictions, in response to the Nationwide Group for the Reform of Marijuana Legal guidelines. 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 kind. The Nationwide Convention 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 thought over time. A November 2021 Gallup ballot confirmed 68% of respondents favored legalizing the drug.

The Wall Road Journal stated 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 mushy on crime because the midterm elections strategy.

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

Maritza Perez, a director on the Drug Coverage Alliance, which favors altering marijuana legal guidelines, advised PolitiFact that Biden may reform legal guidelines with out going by way of Congress.

Perez stated the president may order the Justice Division to deprioritize marijuana prosecutions or use his clemency energy to launch folks serving time for federal marijuana offenses. He may additionally assist the MORE Act, which might take marijuana off the checklist of scheduled substances beneath the Managed Substances Act and eradicate felony penalties for manufacturing, distributing, or possessing marijuana.

“Sadly, we’ve got not seen any steps and even the indication of great consideration for a step in the suitable route relating to marijuana coverage reform and the Biden administration,” Justin Strekal, political director of the NORML, advised PolitiFact.

The White Home advised The Wall Road Journal that hashish coverage is beneath examine however declined additional remark.

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