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A coalition made up of more than 80 groups recently penned a letter to President Joseph Biden asking that he put an end to the federal prohibition of cannabis. In the letter, the coalition stated that too many lives had been affected by the country’s failed approach to marijuana and urged that the administration support comprehensive cannabis reform bills in Congress.
This includes measures such as the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act., which deschedules cannabis, establishes a regulatory framework for marijuana markets and repairs the past harms of prohibition.
Marijuana criminalization has led to the unfair targeting of Black, Indigenous and other people of color, despite the fact that the drug’s use is roughly equal among whites and Blacks.
Late last year, the president issued a proclamation pardoning individuals with simple marijuana possession offenses at the federal level. While this did help a few, the majority of those affected by federal criminalization of cannabis weren’t granted relief. This is mainly because federal sentencing usually jails individuals for higher-level offenses that are more complicated than simple possession.
Removing marijuana completely from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act instead of classifying it in a lower schedule would not only bring the cannabis industry into compliance with existing federal laws and regulations but also reduce sentences, stop future arrests and offer a pathway for resentencing.
Descheduling would also afford workers in state-legal cannabis industries the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act, which are available to workers in other industries. This is in addition to eliminating the regulatory barriers that prevent research on marijuana from advancing. Furthermore, veterans would be allowed access to medical cannabis programs through their VA physicians.
The coalition noted that while descheduling marijuana and other administrative actions would greatly advance criminal justice reform efforts, a comprehensive regulatory framework was needed to ensure no parties involved in the industry were affected.
In the letter, advocates added that other actions that could end the current harms of cannabis prohibition included reducing the harms of state law convictions that make up majority of low-level cannabis convictions in the country. The letter also encourages that the White House work with Congress to approve comprehensive descheduling bills that include repairing and centering communities most harmed by criminalization and prohibition, criminal justice reform, and a regulatory framework rooted in justice, equity and public health.
Organizations involved include the Second Chance Clemency Project, Marijuana Policy Project, Minorities for Medical Marijuana, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and VOCAL-WA, among many others.
The calls for reform, if heeded, could have a beneficial effect on the operations of companies such as IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) since there would be fewer hoops to navigate as studies or different needed manufacturing processes are undertaken.
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