Bernardo Mandalho | Contributing Writer
President Joe Biden pardoned people who’ve been convicted of marijuana possession under federal law on Oct. 6. Now with midterm elections coming up, this act can encourage governors to do the same and that’s what I hope for Florida.
Biden also committed to reassessing and bringing into discussion marijuana’s drug classification, what pro-legalization activists expected him to do since the beginning of this mandate.
“The federal government currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance,” said the president in The White House’s Twitter video. “The same as heroin and LSD and more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense,” he continued.
Marijuana is being used freely among students, workers and even retirees. With Biden’s promise of a liberal and progressed country, we demand action that impacts marijuana’s stigma.
Marijuana smokers have been criminalized and suffer prejudice because of this conservative moralization. We’re now in a situation equivalent to the 18th Amendment when alcohol consumption was prohibited. People kept using it illegally, without paying taxes and without government control.
Biden’s pardon is a huge deal, but the conviction of simple possession of marijuana is mainly up to state law, based on the number of convicted people.
If you ever get pulled over on the road for whatever reason by a sheriff or state trooper, that’s under state law. On the other hand, federal law deals with specific crimes like interstate trafficking in contraband, federal tax fraud, mail fraud, or crimes committed on federal property.
So, Biden’s act may encourage states to pardon people, putting many previously incarcerated people’s lives back on track.
With the elections approaching, it’s no surprise that Biden acted on this right before the midterm elections — it pushes voters to lean towards the Democrats.
This pardon affects those who’ve been incarcerated. Once you’re convicted, your record is damaged and everything becomes much harder, like renting or buying a house, applying to schools, jobs and so on.
According to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union, a Black person is three times more likely to be arrested for possession than a white person. However, the amount of marijuana consumed by white and Black people is similar. It’s clear that this excessive penalty has a racial impact.
Many Republican officials object to this pardoning, believing that President Biden wants to divert the country’s attention with the pardoning, to minimize his supposed failure.
“In the midst of a crime wave and on the brink of a recession, Joe Biden is giving blanket pardons to drug offenders,” said Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton on Twitter. “This is a desperate attempt to distract from failed leadership,” he adds.
However, the pardoning doesn’t have any effect on marijuana possession offenses after Oct. 6, which is incomprehensible. If Biden is aware of the cons, like racial disparities and unnecessary lives upended, then he should put an end to it — Make marijuana legal and you’ll eliminate all these issues.
It’s about time we rejudge those penalties.
Biden’s action is worth congratulating —it’s better to have some progress than none.
The people in favor of the legalization of marijuana expected a more transparent and objective action from President Biden and, with this, we’ll continue to demand more concrete attitudes that will result in a country with legal marijuana.
I hope for a reality where Americans can smoke a joint safely anywhere in this country. I also wish that the next Florida governor follows President Biden’s decision, because it’s one step closer to recreational legalization.
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