Biden pardons thousands for cannabis possession – Manila Bulletin

WASHINGTON, United States – US President Joe Biden pardoned thousands of Americans convicted of possession of marijuana on Thursday in another major step towards destigmatizing the drug – and fulfilling a promise he made to his supporters a month ago. before the midterm elections.

US President Joe Biden (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/AFP FILE)

“I am announcing a pardon for all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana,” Biden said.

He did not call for full decriminalization of cannabis, saying “limitations on traffic, marketing and sales to minors should remain in place.”

Instead, the president has focused on individual possession of a substance that government health officials say was used by at least 18% of the population in 2019 – and which is already authorized by several governments in State for recreational or medical purposes.

In addition to pardons, Biden has instructed the justice and health departments to determine whether cannabis should be reclassified as a less dangerous substance.

Officials told reporters that about 6,500 people are directly affected by convictions under federal marijuana laws. The clemency will extend to thousands more convicted under the laws of the federal capital, Washington.

However, Biden’s move aims to push change much further, pressuring state authorities everywhere to follow suit.

“I urge all governors to do the same with respect to state offenses. Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely for possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or a state prison for that reason either,” Biden said.

– Political impact –
The move was announced abruptly by video message and in a written statement, with no prior build-up by the White House.

However, the impact should be significant, both legally and politically, allowing Biden to capture the narrative of a decriminalization trend that whole swaths of the country have already embraced.

Ahead of the November 8 midterm elections, where his Democrats are struggling to retain even partial control of Congress, Biden has now met a key demand from racial justice activists angry at the way law enforcement on cannabis often targets ethnic minorities.

“Sending people to jail for possession of marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for behaviors that many states no longer prohibit,” Biden said.

He noted that non-white people are disproportionately affected by marijuana possession convictions, which, in addition to sometimes including jail time, can trigger years of legal fallout, making it difficult to find work. and studies.

The third measure announced was an instruction for federal health and justice officials to “promptly review how marijuana is enshrined in federal law.”

Currently, federal law associates marijuana with what are widely accepted to be far more dangerous narcotics, such as heroin and LSD. It’s in a higher group than the relatively modern – and extremely addictive – drugs fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, a key Biden ally who is fighting to try to keep the chamber under Democratic control in November, said the president’s decision recognizes that the so-called “war on drugs” is “a war against people and especially people of color.”

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, a prominent black civil rights organization, said on Twitter, “We applaud President Biden.”

“Addressing unequal treatment — including marijuana reform — has been a priority issue for the NAACP for decades.”

Cynthia Roseberry of the powerful American Civil Liberties Union echoed the praise, saying Biden was partly lifting the “long shadow” cast by draconian drug laws, while the Marijuana Policy Project, which campaigns for reforms legal, called Biden’s decision “historic.”

Republican Senator Tom Cotton, however, accused Biden of being soft on crime in an effort to distract.

“In the midst of a crime wave and on the brink of a recession, Joe Biden is granting a blanket pardon to drug addicts – many of whom have pleaded to more serious charges. This is a desperate attempt to distract of failing leadership,” Cotton said on Twitter.



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