Joe Biden announces he will vacate all federal convictions for simple possession of cannabis

US President Joe Biden announced Thursday, October 6th, that he would lift all federal convictions for simple possession of cannabis. “Nobody should be jailed for using or possessing cannabis”he said on Twitter, urging state governors to follow this path and pardon those convicted of a simple offense of cannabis possession.

While the movement to decriminalize cannabis is gaining momentum in the United States, the President has also called on health and legal officials to reconsider penalties associated with the use or possession of marijuana. However, Mr Biden insisted on the importance of continuing the fight against cannabis trafficking and its sale to minors.

Approved for use in nineteen states

These new measures also aim to correct criminal cases that disproportionately affect ethnic minorities, the President reasoned. “Erasing the criminal records of people convicted of drug possession is a social justice issue”applauded the influential elected progressive Pramila Jayapal.

Nineteen of the fifty US states and the federal capital Washington have legalized the recreational use of cannabis by adults. Most states allow varying degrees of medical use of cannabis, ranging from the use of oils with a low THC content (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive principle of cannabis) to pure marijuana. Only a handful of ultraconservative and rural states like Idaho, Wyoming or Nebraska remain unyielding.

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“This is a victory for fairness, justice and redemption”saluted Cynthia Roseberry, an officer with the ACLU. “It means thousands of people are getting a second chance instead of being punished forever for acts that are now legal or decriminalized in more than half of the states.”She added.

On the opposition side, Republican Senator Tom Cotton railed “a desperate attempt to divert attention from bad leadership”.

A first step in reclassifying marijuana

Curiously, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. The lower house of the US Congress in early April passed a bill supported by elected representatives of its Democratic Party that aimed to remove cannabis from the federal list of dangerous drugs. However, the text still has to be approved by the Senate.

However, Joe Biden’s announcement on Thursday symbolizes a first step towards his reclassification and can be interpreted as a footsteps call to the young electorate, a month before the midterm elections, in which the Democrats could lose control of at least one of the two American houses of parliament.

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According to a recent study, marijuana use among young Americans reached record levels last year. Overall, the American public is overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing cannabis. According to a poll conducted last year by the Pew Research Center, 91% of adults think marijuana should be legal, for medical use, for recreational use, or both.

Sales of legal cannabis in the United States totaled around $25 billion last year, and all experts predict rapid growth for the sector in the coming years.

The world with AFP

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