NewsIs the United States about to legalize marijuana nationwide?

Is the United States about to legalize marijuana nationwide?

The president of the United States, Joe Biden, gave a surprise on Thursday of the week by announcing a pardon for thousands of people convicted of federal marijuana possession charges.

The measure will only benefit a few thousand people, but it has a strong symbolic value a little less than a month before the mid-term elections, which will be held on November 8.

Biden’s pardon

US President Joe Biden pardoned thousands of people convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law on Thursday, October 6.

“No one should be in jail for simply possessing or using marijuana,” the US president said in a statement. “Too many lives have been upended due to our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time to correct those mistakes.”

About 6,500 people are convicted under federal marijuana rules, officials told reporters. The clemency will be extended to thousands of other convicts benefiting from regulations in the federal capital, Washington.

The president also called on the health and judicial authorities to rethink the penalties associated with marijuana, at a time when the movement for its decriminalization finds strong support in the United States.

These new measures are also intended to rectify criminal proceedings that disproportionately affect ethnic minorities, he said.

“Erasing the criminal records of people convicted of drug possession is a matter of social justice,” applauded influential progressive lawmaker Pramila Jayapal.

Political strategy for the elections?

This decision by Biden can be interpreted as a call to this electorate, one month before the midterm elections. In addition, it is a campaign promise that Biden still had pending.

As a whole, the American population is overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing cannabis.

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center last year, 91% of adults think that marijuana should be legal, for medical use, recreational use, or both.

In addition, it appears to be a move that targets African-Americans, a key demographic for the Democratic Party, who are more than three times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

However, the measure could also be instrumentalized by the Republican Party, which may point to the fight against drug trafficking as a point against that policy.

“There is a risk that the attacks by the Republicans, who denounce the Democrats as being soft on crime, will become a key factor before the elections that could give control of the Senate and the House of Representatives to the Republican Party”, indicates the journalist Stephen Collinson in an analysis for CNN.

During his announcement, Biden stressed the importance of continuing the fight against the trafficking and sale of cannabis to minors.

Would cannabis be legalized?

Nineteen of the 50 American states, as well as the capital Washington, have already legalized recreational cannabis use for adults.

In most states, its medicinal use is authorized in different degrees, from oils that contain a low level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive principle of cannabis) to pure marijuana.

Only a handful of ultraconservative and rural states, such as Idaho, Wyoming or Nebraska, remain uncompromising.

But interestingly, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

Biden’s announcement on Thursday symbolizes a first step toward his reclassification.

The president instructed Health Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to “expeditiously review how marijuana is classified under federal law.”

Currently, federal law classifies marijuana alongside much more dangerous narcotics, such as heroin and LSD. It is in a higher bracket than relatively modern and highly addictive drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamines.

Marijuana use among young Americans reached record levels last year, according to a new study.

The House of Representatives had approved a bill in early April, presented by legislators from the ruling Democratic Party, aimed at removing cannabis from the federal list of dangerous drugs.

The text must still be ratified by the Senate.

With information from AFP

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