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Biden Administration Stalls on Marijuana Legislation Reform

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 exhibiting {that a} majority of People helps the concept.

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

“If somebody like myself and a progressive like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can discover some frequent 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 mentioned.

Whereas campaigning in Could 2019, Biden got here out in favor of decriminalization, which might stop folks from being incarcerated for marijuana possession below federal regulation and expunge prior prison data for possession. Different candidates, together with Vice President Kamala Harris, supported full legalization below 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 a few years for subsequent convictions, based on the Nationwide Group for the Reform of Marijuana Legal guidelines. A big majority of marijuana arrests, nevertheless, 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 type. 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 through the years. A November 2021 Gallup ballot confirmed 68% of respondents favored legalizing the drug.

The Wall Road Journal mentioned 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 smooth on crime because the midterm elections strategy.

“I can undoubtedly see the Biden administration rising crime charges and suppose it could 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 might reform legal guidelines with out going by means of Congress.

Perez mentioned the president might order the Justice Division to deprioritize marijuana prosecutions or use his clemency energy to launch folks serving time for federal marijuana offenses. He might additionally help the MORE Act, which might take marijuana off the record of scheduled substances below the Managed Substances Act and eradicate prison penalties for manufacturing, distributing, or possessing marijuana.

“Sadly, we’ve not seen any steps and even the indication of significant consideration for a step in the best route in relation 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 below examine however declined additional remark.

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