Senators representing several states have written a letter to the Biden administration demanding that more action be taken toward the federal legalization of marijuana.
They argue that continued reticence on behalf of the federal government is causing hundreds of thousands of Americans to continue to suffer from chronic pain, depression, and other harmful health conditions.
Although we’ve begun to see many states implement legislation and policies in favor of medical and or recreational marijuana markets, members and advocates of the anti-prohibition movement argue that real change will only be seen once the White House takes action.
Booker, Sanders, & Warren, oh my!
The letter, which was signed by Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, “was addressed to U.S. President Biden, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.”
Booker, Sanders, and Warren have actively and openly expressed their support for the decriminalization of marijuana throughout their political careers. Not surprisingly, the possession and use of recreational marijuana is legalized in all three of the states the aforementioned senators represent.
The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, and Ron Wyden of Oregon.
A Pardon for Non-Violence
The letter made a few notable requests, the first being that the Biden Administration uses its power to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
Furthermore, it asks that the White House “issue pardons to all individuals convicted of non-violent cannabis-related offenses.”
According to NORML, “a 2022 analysis of marijuana possession arrests in Texas for the years 2017 to 2019 reported that African Americans comprised 30.2 percent of all possession arrests, yet Black people comprised only 12.9 percent of the state’s population.”
According to DrugPolicy.org, more than 350,149 marijuana arrests were made in the U.S. in 2020. Currently, America houses more than 2 million incarcerated people, and 1 in 5 of those people is imprisoned for a drug offense.
The plea comes at a time when efforts to legalize marijuana on a federal level have stalled in the U.S. Senate due to the fact that 60 votes are needed to approve the majority of legislation.
Officials within the cannabis market have been disappointed for months with Biden’s lack of action after he previously promised to back some marijuana reform initiatives.
A joint Biden-Sanders task team advocated for federal marijuana rescheduling, nationwide medical marijuana legalization, and state-level control over recreational cannabis use prior to the 2020 election.
It asserts that in the fall of 2021, additional letters pleading with Biden to pardon non-violent cannabis offenders and asking the Department of Justice to begin the process of de-scheduling or rescheduling marijuana were written.
A Harmful Approach
For the writers of the letter, continued inaction at the federal level is an active form of harm to Americans. Many patients across the country are suffering from physical and mental illnesses and are unable to benefit from the power of medical marijuana.
Beyond patients who could benefit from a potential marijuana prescription, there are hundreds of thousands more who may not have a diagnosis but who could reap life-altering benefits from the recreational use of the plant. Nearly 20% of the American population suffers from an anxiety disorder, and many more suffer without being officially diagnosed.
Every moment that the Biden Administration chooses not to take action on the matter is a moment that causes real harm to sick and incarcerated Americans.
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