President Biden isn’t ready to pass that dutch.
On Wednesday, Senate Democrats unveiled a proposal that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Though only in its draft phase, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, a relic of the War on Drugs that has disproportionately impacted people of color and the poor. The legislation— introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer along with Sens. Cory Booker and Ron Wyden—would also implement regulations and taxes on cannabis products, expunge federal records of nonviolent cannabis offenders, and allow those currently serving prison time for nonviolent cannabis offenses to petition for a court resentencing.
“This is monumental because at long last we are taking steps in the Senate to right the wrongs of the failed War On Drugs,” Schumer said. “I was the first Democratic leader to come out for the legalization of marijuana and I will use my clout as majority leader to make this a priority in the Senate.”
Schumer emphasized that the bill could face an uphill battle as it doesn’t have the support of a majority of Senators just yet. But considering the fact that 37 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and the fact that 18 states including D.C. have legalized its recreational use, and the fact that over 90 percent of Americans think we should legalize that loud already for either recreational or medical use...how much convincing could they really need?
One obvious obstacle, however, is the president’s outdated attitudes toward marijuana, as well as his apparent resistance to changing them. As a senator in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Biden was instrumental in toughening federal penalties against several drugs, including marijuana. He has since softened his stances, agreeing that people shouldn’t be thrown into prison for possession of marijuana and expressing openness to decriminalization efforts. At the same time, his administration ended up suspending and asking for the resignations of several White House staffers earlier this year for cannabis use, so it’s hard to get a good read on what he really thinks.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki hasn’t offered much clarity either. When asked at Wednesday’s press briefing about whether Biden supported Schumer’s draft, Psaki replied, “I have spoken in the past about the president’s views on marijuana, and there’s no change.”
Man, just endorse the Act and keep it moving. Or better yet, spark it.