Joe Biden is Reforming America’s Approach to Marijuana

Joe Biden has been clear for a long time that our nation’s marijuana laws are outdated and are failing communities, particularly communities of color. Far too many Americans – especially Black and Brown Americans – have seen their lives upended because of a failed approach to marijuana. When he ran in 2020, Biden promised to fight to ensure that no one is in jail for marijuana possession alone. And since taking office, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have led the most significant federal reform to our nation’s approach to marijuana in history.

Donald Trump opposes marijuana reform and, as president, made the failed approach worse. 

While the Trump Administration threatened federal prosecutions for marijuana in states where cannabis use is legal, Joe Biden granted federal pardons for all offenses of simple possession of marijuana – lifting barriers to housing, employment, and benefits for thousands of Americans. Joe Biden is urging state governors to follow his lead and pardon those incarcerated on state charges for simple marijuana possession offenses. 

This administration didn’t stop there. In 2022, Joe Biden requested that DOJ and HHS review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. Marijuana currently holds the highest-level classification over the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic – and other dangerous drugs like LSD. And at the conclusion of that review, The Biden-Harris Administration moved to start reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule III drug, marking the biggest potential change in federal drug law in decades.

The way our justice system has treated marijuana use has harmed individuals, families, and communities for too long. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are leading the charge to reverse long standing injustices and to right historic wrongs.

Why is marijuana clemency important for criminal justice reform?

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are dedicated to building a criminal justice system that ensures public safety, offers new beginnings, and provides equal justice for every single American. Part of that is reforming the parts of the system that have disproportionately affected already disenfranchised communities.

Despite using cannabis at similar rates to the rest of the population, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates. Having a criminal record for possessing marijuana also imposes harmful barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.

Sending people to prison for simply possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Joe Biden is committed to reversing these long standing injustices and righting historic wrongs.

What was the Trump Administration’s stance on marijuana?

Donald Trump opposes marijuana reform and, as president, made the failed approach worse. Trump took no steps whatsoever to reform our country’s approach to marijuana. In fact, the Trump Administration rescinded an Obama-era policy that discouraged federal prosecutors from bringing charges wherever marijuana was legal under state laws. This move freed prosecutors to more aggressively enforce federal laws against marijuana consumers and businesses, even in states that have decriminalized its production and sale.

Donald Trump has no new ideas for marijuana reform, and you can expect more of the same backward-looking approach if he gets a second term in office. Reelect Joe Biden to further advance our nation toward a more just future.

What does it mean that Joe Biden made marijuana a “Schedule III” drug?

Drugs, substances, and certain chemicals used to make drugs are classified into five (5) distinct categories or schedules depending upon the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential.

Until Joe Biden requested a review, marijuana had long been classified as a Schedule I drug, reserved for the most harmful, addictive substances with no accepted scientific use. Federal scientists recently recommended that marijuana should be removed from this most restrictive category of drugs since it is neither as risky nor as prone to abuse as other tightly controlled substances. 

Research tells us that marijuana is not as dangerous as we once believed – that’s why the Biden-Harris Administration took a major step to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug under federal law. The process was led by evidence and law and is a measure that criminal justice advocates, members of Congress, and the medical community have sought for years. Reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule III drug will remove burdensome long standing barriers to critical research. That could mean more research into the medical benefits of marijuana, including for our veterans and Americans with chronic diseases like cancer.