President Biden has made the momentous decision to issue a pardon for all those convicted under federal law for possession of marijuana. This long overdue course of action is a huge step in the right direction.
For half a century, millions of Americans have been severely persecuted for mere possession of marijuana. Individuals who did nothing to harm others have been imprisoned and denied employment, housing, and educational opportunities. It is about time this terrible injustice is addressed.
Biden’s pardon aims to rectify past wrongs
While the pardon is arguably one of the best actions taken by a U.S. politician in decades, it represents a significant reversal of President Biden’s prior stance on marijuana during his long political career. Notably, he helped write the infamous Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, paving the way for the mass incarceration of those convicted of nonviolent drug crimes.
However, we may hope that the president’s change of course could start a trend and indeed set a precedent for politicians to reverse a plethora of bad decisions made over the past number of decades, such as endless spending, raiding of the social security fund, and the consolidation of powers in congress.
The president has now called for governors to follow suit and likewise pardon those convicted of nonviolent possession from state prosecutions.
Could major changes to drug scheduling be on the horizon?
Importantly, President Biden has also called on the Secretary of Health and Human Services as well as the Attorney General to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.
As things currently stand, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I narcotic – a position that utterly defies reason. This means that marijuana is deemed to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse.
If marijuana can be rescheduled and taken off the Schedule I list, there will be far fewer innocent people turned into criminals and less justification for aggressive policing in poor neighborhoods that disproportionately affects minorities. Furthermore, this would save the American taxpayer a lot of money.
Biden’s pardon is also hugely consequential for the cannabis industry. Even though a growing number of states have legalized marijuana, either for medicinal or recreational use, many in the industry remain in fear of being raided by the federal government and having their business taken from them.
Currently, many cannabis businesses across the United States remain unable to get bank accounts. This is because banks are afraid of the potential consequences that could arise from holding accounts for businesses that sell a product that is technically illegal. As such, many businesses have been forced to operate on a cash-only basis, leaving themselves particularly vulnerable to robberies.
Regardless of what exactly happens next, the significance of President Biden’s pardon for all those convicted for marijuana possession on a federal level cannot be understated. For all friends of liberty, it is an extremely welcome development. Let us hope that we now find ourselves at the beginning of a new era where the costly, counterproductive, and authoritarian drug war can be brought to an end.
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