Senators Klobuchar and Smith, join Booker, Warren, Sanders and others in push on Biden for cannabis legalization
Last week, a group of six U.S. senators urged the Biden administration to use its position and remove cannabis from the list of Schedule 1 substances under federal law. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-ORE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Edward J.Markey (D-MA) sent the urging letter on Wednesday, asking the administration to “use its existing authority to (i) deschedule cannabis and (ii) issue pardons to all individuals convicted of nonviolent cannabis-related offenses.” (Benzinga)
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MIN) and Tina Smith (D-Min), while not being a part of this group that signed and sent the letter to President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said they are also backing recreational marijuana legalization and commuting sentences of non-violent offenders, reported Minnesota Reformer.
“I support the legalization of marijuana on the federal level and believe that states should have the right to determine the best approach to marijuana within their borders. We must also take steps to expunge prior non-violent convictions,” Klobuchar stated.
Klobuchar previously ran for president in 2020, and prior to serving the Senate, she was Hennepin County attorney for two terms, in charge of the state’s biggest team of prosecuting lawyers.
Smith seems to be on the same page with all these politicians fighting for the same cause – legalizing the plant. Her spokeswoman, Lexi Byler, stated, “Sen. Smith believes that marijuana should be legalized, and that cannabis should be removed from the nation’s list of illegal controlled substances. She also supports expunging non-violent marijuana convictions.
Letter highlights & recent developments
In the letter senators sent last week, they wrote, “The Administration’s failure to coordinate a timely review of its cannabis policy is harming thousands of Americans, slowing research, and depriving Americans of their ability to use marijuana for medical or other purposes. We ask that the Biden Administration act quickly to rectify this decade-long injustice harming individuals, especially Black and Brown communities.”
Senators haven’t forgotten to mention growing public support for marijuana legalization, and also the problems communities of color are dealing with due to the “racist and harmful legacy of cannabis policies,” in the U.S.
“The legacy of the war on drugs is pervasive. It is estimated that over 40,000 individuals are still incarcerated for cannabis related offenses,” they wrote.
“A report released by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2020 found that Black individuals were nearly four times as likely to be arrested for cannabis possession even with comparable usage rates amongst individuals of all races. In some states Black individuals were almost 10 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession.”
The letter comes on the heels of the Biden administration confirming it will consider safe consumption sites and cannabis decriminalization to address the public health emergency. Nevertheless, this is far from the first time the Biden administration is making promises and no real actions around marijuana reform, and also not the first time the White House is under pressure from all sides on this matter therefore, the need from senators to push harder. Will it work this time? We’ll see.
by Nina Zdinjak