Earlier this month, President Joseph Biden issued a mass pardon for individuals who had been convicted of simple possession of cannabis at the federal level. A full presidential pardon usually restores an individual’s state and federal civil rights and eliminates any consequences brought on by a federal conviction.
President Biden also gave a directive that the scheduling of cannabis be reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice. The resulting recommendation may see marijuana placed in a lower schedule or descheduled altogether, which will legalize it under federal law.
The U.S. Health and Human Services and the Justice Departments have revealed that they are committed to conducting the scheduling review quickly as directed by the president.
Biden has spent the last few weeks making good on his commitment to modest reform, after more than a year without addressing marijuana issues. His actions are supported by a majority of Americans, with results from various polls showing that most supported the president’s pardon.
In a recently aired interview, Biden stated that he’d changed the lives of thousands by pardoning them, noting that he could only grant clemency for those in federal prisons. In an earlier statement, the president had stated that he was keeping his promise that no individual needed to be in jail for merely possessing or using cannabis, noting that these records, which would prevent individuals from getting employed, also needed to be completely expunged. He added that individuals who had served their time and been released needed to have access to educational opportunities as well as other re-entry services.
The president also suggested that individuals with drug convictions needed to undergo mandatory therapy as an alternative to decriminalization. However, he indicated that he wouldn’t extend his pardon to individuals who sold cannabis and noted that individuals who had been jailed for drug offenses needed to undergo mandatory treatment while in prison. This contradicts with his earlier statement to force these individuals into treatment instead of jailing them.
While the strides being made are positive, advocates would like the president to go a step further by extending relief to individuals with sales convictions. Activists with DCMJ, Last Prisoner Project and Sensible Drug Policy are calling for the president to release individuals who have been imprisoned for cannabis convictions that aren’t limited to simple possession. This comes as officials work to ensure that those who received pardons for federal cannabis offenses under Biden’s proclamation aren’t hindered from being employed in the future.
While federal prohibition persists, marijuana companies will still have few options to secure financing for their operations, and such as like REZYFi Inc. will remain lifeline of sorts to these companies that wish to grow their operations sans traditional banking services.
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