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 Individuals 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 widespread floor, it begs the query, why hasn’t the president acted?” U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, informed The Wall Avenue 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 individuals 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 12 months for the primary offense and given two to 3 years for subsequent convictions, in keeping with 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 grew to become 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 concept over time. A November 2021 Gallup ballot 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 12 months. Biden could also be involved that advocating marijuana reform would make him look mushy on crime because the midterm elections strategy.

“I can positively see the Biden administration taking a look at rising crime charges and assume it could 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, informed The Journal.

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

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

“Sadly, we’ve got not seen any steps and even the indication of significant consideration for a step in the proper route on the subject of marijuana coverage reform and the Biden administration,” Justin Strekal, political director of the NORML, informed PolitiFact.

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

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