Marijuana is a weed that has gotten a bad rap over the years, even though it’s been proven to have positive health benefits. One of President Joe Biden’s pivotal campaign promises, while he was running for President, was marijuana reform and the decriminalization of marijuana. Currently, the recreational use of cannabis is legal in 15 states, and the medicinal use of cannabis is legal in 33 states as well as the district of Columbia.
In 2015, 8.3 % of the US population aged 12 years and older used marijuana in the past month; 16.4% of adolescents aged 12-17 years used in lifetime and 7.0% used in the past month.
A recent Gallup poll found that 68% of American adults in the U.S. currently backs the legalization and the decriminalization of marijuana.
Marijuana’s Legal History
The decriminalization of marijuana became popular in the 1960’s. It became a movement advocating for reform of federal laws regulating marijuana. The focus was on reducing the penalty of possession of a small amount of marijuana.
Initially, Surgeon General Elder proposed to study marijuana laws in 1993. Medicinal marijuana first became legal in California in 1996 with the passing of the legal marijuana laws. More states soon began to follow California’s medicinal marijuana crusade. In the near future, more than 40 states could allow for the decriminalization and marijuana reform.
The War On Drugs And President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden has not always been a true supporter of marijuana reform. Quite the contrary. In the late 1980’s and early ‘90’s he was head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was a big supporter of the war on drugs as well as mass incarceration. President Biden enforced the building of more prisons, tougher prison time and sentencing for drug offenses for crack cocaine.
The focus was on a “tough on crime” policy when Democrats and Republicans pushed for lengthier sentencing to abolish the cocaine epidemic. With a tougher crime policy, no one would have ever imagined that decriminalization of marijuana would have become a reality in the Democratic dream.
Biden’s known for a history of being the key architect of many bills penalizing nonviolent crimes associated with marijuana. In 2018, 92% of marijuana arrests were for possession and 8% were for selling and or manufacturing.
The Democrats in the House of Representatives passed the More Act, which would have legalized marijuana and erased prior criminal convictions of people previously convicted of marijuana related crimes. Unfortunately, this bill died in the Senate.
Where Do The FDA And DEA Stand?
The Drug enforcement Agency (DEA) currently classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, and considers it to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. The plan is to change the schedule of marijuana to a Schedule 2 drug which would classify marijuana as still having a high abuse rate but safe and accepted for medical uses in the United States.
Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris support the moderate drug rescheduling , federal medicinal legislation, allowing states to set their own laws, adult usage marijuana decriminalization and to erase prior cannabis convictions.
Both the FDA and DEA have previously refused to reexamine the scheduling of marijuana when petitioned in the past. They are both predicted to resist efforts that would increase marijuana availability.
The Drug Policy Alliance wants President Joe Biden to completely reschedule cannabis, with criminal justice reform being the focus. The alliance also is asking President Biden to reinstate a policy that was instated when Obama was in office that blocked federal law enforcement from taking legal action where marijuana was legal.
In 2018, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer co-sponsored legislation to decriminalize cannabis. This focused on creating a trust fund for marijuana businesses owned by women and minorities. Recently Senator Schumer stated he was working on new federal marijuana legalization bill that lets states decide what to do and will tax revenues from marijuana and put them towards investing in minority communities.
This will enable more manufacturers to produce marijuana and or products derived from the plant. Marijuana is legal in many states and there have been numerous studies that have proven medicinal benefits for medical illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, seizure disorders, Crohn’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, and several other conditions.
The FDA has not approved any marketing campaigns for cannabis at this time. However, Epidiolex, manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, has been approved by the FDA to treat complex seizure disorders.
It’s only been a couple of months since President Joe Biden has taken office. The fight towards marijuana reform and marijuana decriminalization seems to be slowly unfolding with no clear resolutions. Most Americans want a more compassionate health-based option when it comes to health care and choosing alternative medicines. The future of marijuana reform seems to be an exciting one with many changes on the horizon.
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