Democratic senators in the United States have petitioned President Joe Biden to take action and pardon cannabis offenders and decriminalize.
Elizabeth Warren and two other Democratic senators are pleading with President Joe Biden to use his executive authority to “pardon all individuals convicted of nonviolent cannabis offenses, whether previously or now incarcerated.”
Warren, Massachusetts’ senior senator, requested in a letter to Biden on Tuesday. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon also signed the letter.
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“For far too long, America’s cannabis policies have penalized Black and Brown communities. States began enacting anti-cannabis legislation at the turn of the twentieth century to especially target Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans,” the three senators wrote.
“By 1937, the war on cannabis had evolved to a federal ban, aided by a high-profile campaign based on racist clichés.
“In the 1970s, President Nixon initiated the War on Drugs against the advice and expertise of his own advisors and specialists, ushering in policies of mass incarceration that have had a terrible effect on Black and Brown families. Today, despite widespread legalization initiatives and relatively equal rates of cannabis use, Black Americans are over four times as likely as white Americans to be arrested for cannabis possession.”
Additionally, the Democratic three brought receipts, citing mountains of polling data indicating that record proportions of Americans support marijuana legalization.
“These practices are becoming increasingly out of line with the American public’s opinions. Almost seven out of ten Americans feel marijuana should be legalized,” the senators wrote. Warren and her colleagues referred to that campaign vow in their Tuesday letter to Biden.
“Our country’s cannabis policies need to be completely overhauled, but you have the authority to act now: you can and should grant a blanket pardon for all nonviolent federal cannabis offenses, keeping your promise to the American people and transforming the lives of tens of thousands of Americans,” they wrote.
“As a presidential candidate, you claimed that ‘we should decriminalize marijuana and that ‘everyone [with a marijuana conviction] should be released from jail, their records purged, and their record completely wiped clean.’ A blanket pardon is a first and simplest stage in the procedure. As previous presidents have done, the Constitution vests you with the right to pardon vast classes of Americans to redress widespread injustice.”
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“Most importantly, such a pardon—when combined with your leadership on an accessible expungement process to formally clear those affected’s criminal records—would mark the beginning of a reversal of decades of ineffective and discriminatory cannabis policies, allowing Americans to return to their communities, find housing and work, and rebuild their lives free of the burdens of an unjustly imposed criminal record.”
Senators urged President Biden to fulfill his campaign promise made on the campaign road once and for all. “We implore you to act promptly on behalf of the millions of Americans imprisoned under the country’s illogical marijuana laws,” they concluded. “We appreciate your attention to this critical topic.”