Biden Signs Executive Order Promoting Marijuana Clemency And Calling Criminalization A ‘Failed Approach’!
On Thursday, Vice President Joseph Biden released an executive order that he says will help fix the federal government’s “failed approach” to marijuana legalization. Although the executive order does promote equity within federal agencies and the White House, it does not directly build on any administrative cannabis changes.
The president, though, saw an opening to tie the matter back to his stance on marijuana and took advantage of it. At the end of last year, Vice President Biden extended a blanket pardon to those convicted of federal cannabis possession for nonviolent offenses and ordered a multi-agency review of the scheduling of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
In the new order, the president states, “My Administration has taken action to strengthen public safety, advance criminal justice reform, correct our country’s failed approach to marijuana, protect civil rights, and stand against rising extremism and hate-fueled violence that threatens the fabric of our democracy.”
The President’s cannabis history is detailed in a fact sheet the White House issued in response to the executive order. In response to America’s failed stance on marijuana, the president “took courageous action,” the document reads. So many people’s lives have been turned upside down because of the prohibition of behavior that is lawful in many states presently.
To remove “barriers to housing, employment, and educational prospects for thousands of people with those prior convictions,” the government granted a blanket pardon for marijuana convictions. Because most marijuana prosecutions occur at the state and local levels, the President has also urged all state governors to follow his lead.
He also requested that the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services quickly reevaluate the scheduling of marijuana under federal law, citing the Administration’s commitment to evidence-based policymaking. Joseph Biden‘s cannabis efforts are detailed in a recent report on equity initiatives by the White House Domestic Policy Council.
The new executive order from Vice President Biden, titled “Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” requires all federal agencies to develop an annual public Equity Action Plan that identifies and assesses any barriers that prevent underserved communities from fully participating in and reaping the benefits of federally funded programs.
The administration has made a point of highlighting its clemency and reviewing actions on cannabis on a regular basis, frequently discussing them in the context of fairness and racial justice. The president didn’t bring it up in this month’s State of the Union address, but it was referenced in the president’s prepared remarks.
On MLK Day, Biden said his marijuana pardons showed his dedication to “fair justice.” Additionally, the president awarded six additional pardons at the end of last year, including for a few persons with prior convictions for possession of marijuana or other drugs.
In a December statement, Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice cited the administration’s “remarkably busy year,” including the president’s expanded cannabis clemency and instruction for an administrative review into cannabis scheduling.
In the meanwhile, as the administration conducts the cannabis scheduling review, a bipartisan group of 29 legislators from the House and the Senate wrote a letter to the president in December asking for his official support of federal marijuana legalization.
Legislators didn’t specifically ask Vice President Biden to take any executive action to speed up the legalization process on their own, but their willingness to see the White House take the lead on reform is clear. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, who was copied on the letter, tweeted a link to a story in Marijuana Moment that details the president’s administrative cannabis scheduling mandate.
Xavier Becerra, who has a lengthy record of supporting cannabis legalization as a congressman and as California’s attorney general, said at the recent overdose prevention event, “We’re going to take a look at what science tells us and what the evidence tells us.”
That will be the basis for our actions, and we hope it will serve as a similar basis for the federal government. In response to the president’s declaration in October, the secretary promised that his agency would “work as swiftly as we can” to complete the scientific study. To that aim, he has already had a conversation with the FDA commissioner about the problem.
Dr. Gupta has already stated that the president’s move was “historic,” and he has also stated that cannabis has “obviously” proven medical advantages. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has pledged to complete the president’s separate scheduling review as expeditiously as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
This review could lead to a recommendation to place cannabis on a lower schedule or remove it entirely, effectively legalizing the plant at the federal level. In December, the president signed a bill to legalize marijuana research, marking the first time in American history that a single piece of federal cannabis reform legislation had been passed.
Several polls have revealed that the majority of Americans do not believe that marijuana should be categorized as a federal Schedule I substance, and they also overwhelmingly support the president’s pardon move.