President Joe Biden has pardoned all Americans who have been convicted at the national level of possessing small amounts of marijuana.
Officials estimate about 6,500 people with federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana will benefit. No one is currently in federal prison solely for possession of marijuana. Most convictions occur at the state level. But the federal pardons will make it easier for people to get employment, housing, and education, Biden said. As a presidential candidate, Mr. Biden promised to decriminalize cannabis use, as well as expunging convictions.
“Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit,” Biden said.
Recent participants of the 2022 Ohio Cannabis Health & Business Summit in Cleveland react to the announcement.
“This is historic, albeit long overdue, step to begin to repair the massive harms to our society caused by the failed war on drugs. The ignorance surrounding cannabis has gone on far too long, propagated by myths and fallacies, and it has been unthinkable that our country has continued to allow people to be arrested for a plant that is now legal for either medical or adult-use purposes in most states. I’m very excited about the next steps and anxious to see more widespread reform come quickly.
“I also look forward to rapid change in federal policy toward state-legal cannabis businesses. In addition to the war on drugs handcuffing American citizens, it continues to handcuff legitimate businesses that are creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and contributing billions of dollars in annual tax revenue to our national economy. For starters, IRS Tax Code Section 280 was set up to penalize operations trafficking Schedule I or Schedule II drugs (preventing them from deducting normal business expenses), and the fact that that tax code section continues to apply to legal cannabis businesses is nonsensical, especially considering that the U.S. government collects massive taxes from the very businesses it is handcuffing and causing to fail.
“President Biden’s request to examine how cannabis is scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act, while also long overdue, is extremely promising, provided the ignorance that has guided federal policy does not continue.”
Cimone Casson, an insurance agent at Cannas Capital in Michigan and national director of Social Economics for Minorities for Medical Marijuana
Biden pardoning Americans convicted at the federal level for “simple possession” is a step in the right direction, however, we realize that most marijuana convictions are at the state level. When we review the social impact and correct the wrongs of the “War On Drugs” we must measure it in two ways: How many people did we help and How long did we help them?
I encourage us to use this precedent just as President Biden urges the state governments to follow suit and grant the same pardon. We must also continue the initiatives of social equity and economics to assist in indemnity of the wrongly convicted, local citizens, and our communities most impacted
Kevin Greene – V.P. at the Cleveland School of Cannabis
Finally, there’s real federal action when it comes to helping individuals to basically move on with their lives and be part of society. We keep saying that we want them to be a part of society, but people are held back by something so simple as low-level cannabis possession. On the other side, it’s just not enough.
It’s basically saying that we know we need to do more. It should have been so much more considering that at least half of the country has medical cannabis available in their states. Meanwhile, we still have so many people with records of any level of cannabis possession imprisoned. It’s just ridiculous when legal cannabis is sweeping the nation. It’s time to do more from a restitution standpoint. It’s time for cannabis businesses to do business like any other company in America.
President Biden emphasized that the Schedule I status of marijuana ‘makes no sense,’ and a system of reasonable regulation should be put in place to protect public safety,” said Harry Bernstein of Verde Compliance Partners.
“This is huge because it starts the process to deschedule or reschedule marijuana, pushing Congress to do something before the White House does. Anyone in the cannabis business must understand the urgency to prepare for federal compliance now. The end of federal cannabis prohibition is closer than ever and in order for businesses to succeed, they need partners who know federal compliance standards and can work on the tight timeline ahead as we do.”
Chad Livsey, a business owner, founder of the nonprofit Chad Livsey Project in Atlanta, and a cannabis advocate
I’m excited to see some progress and know that this is going to take measured steps to progress. I’m just hoping that we can benefit from the war on drugs. We want to create generational wealth like the rest of the country. This is a civil rights issue and I want to see them heal from the past.
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