Biden urges decriminalization of marijuana

Updated on 07/10/2022 07:11

  • Joe Biden is serious about decriminalizing marijuana.
  • The US president wants to issue an executive order to pardon people convicted of possessing the drug.

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US President Joe Biden takes a step to fulfill his campaign promise to decriminalize marijuana possession in the US. Biden has ordered the Departments of Justice and Health to speed up their investigation of cannabis classification by presidential decree, the White House said Thursday (local time). Biden stressed that marijuana is currently equated with heroin and classified as more dangerous than the synthetic drug fentanyl. “That makes no sense,” he criticized on Twitter.

The executive order also provides for a pardon for anyone convicted of federal marijuana possession in the United States. Authorities say there were about 6,500 people there from 1992 to 2021, senior White House officials said.

For this reason, no one is currently being held in federal prisons. Biden specifically emphasized that black Americans are more likely to be prosecuted for cannabis offenses — and convictions have a lasting impact on their lives.

At the same time, government officials acknowledged that most cannabis possession convictions were not at the federal level, but under state law. Biden also calls on their authorities to grant a pardon. Most of the 50 states in the US legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and about 20 have decriminalized it altogether.

The US midterm elections are just around the corner

Biden said during his 2020 presidential campaign that no one should be sentenced to prison for possession or use of cannabis. According to polls, the majority of Americans feel the same way, not only among the Biden Democrats, but also among many Republicans.

In the spring, the House of Representatives passed another bill, mostly with the vote of Democrats, that provides for the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level. However, with the strong role played by the conservative wing of the Republican Party, no decision has been made in the lower house, the Senate.

Biden’s decree comes about a month before the congressional election, in which the entire House of Representatives and some of the senators must vote. A few months ago, polls suggested that Democrats would lose a narrow majority in the House of Representatives and control in the Senate.

In the meantime, they get better chances to keep the Senate – and some do not rule out the possibility that the House of Representatives can also remain democratic. Even losing one of the houses of parliament would limit Biden’s assertiveness. (dpa/thp)
© dpa

teaser image: © photo alliance / Pacific Press/Lev Radin

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