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Cannabis at the Presidential Podium: 3 Next Steps to Consider Regarding Decriminalization🍃💨

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

Yesterday’s announcement by President Biden that he is issuing mass pardons for those convicted of a federal crime for simply possessing marijuana is a valuable step closer to achieving full decriminalization of cannabis in the US.

So how does this surprise Presidential Executive Order impact everyday people?! At current about 6,500 people would have a clear expungement of their records and with the President also encouraging states to offer mass pardons for simple possession of cannabis THAT is what could have the biggest impact on the daily lives of so many people. The majority of those convicted of possession crimes are through state prosecutions. The evidence is well documented about the significant and long term detrimental impacts for future employment/housing/resourcing specifically for Black and Brown consumers. Stash Queens celebrates this step in a positive direction towards rectifying a more just and balanced prospective about cannabis.

Here are 3 things we are looking towards as the federal posture towards cannabis is shifting!

1. As part of President’s Biden’s announcement, he directed his administration to expedite a review of de-scheduling cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance. Schedule 1 classifications are typically reserved for what is considered to be dangerous substances like heroin and ecstasy. De-scheduling cannabis would have seismic impact on its availability and would be celebrated among many since the education and use of cannabis has evolved since the days of “reefer madness”. While there is still more work to be done, having the highest office holder in the US direct federal resources towards exploring the de-scheduling of the plant is an amazing big step!

2. What will States do? We hope that coastal states like New York and California and other states under the governance of Democratic elected officials will give a serious consideration to issuing mass pardons for cannabis possession. Beyond states where recreational use of cannabis has been legalized, overall public sentiment towards cannabis has shifted positively within this last decade. A more recent poll shows over 57% of Americans believe that recreational and medicinal cannabis use should be made legal. This majority will surely increase over time as people will have greater access to the educational and personal benefits of cannabis. Even in states with more conservative leaders, the tide towards a more accepting position of cannabis has been helped by the prospect of massive financial benefits for municipalities that cannot be ignored.

3. How do we build momentum? Activists in criminal justice and cannabis spaces have worked separately and collectively to free those that have bore the brunt of punitive and regressive drug policies. We first and foremost acknowledge their foundational and sustaining work and join in their organizing to build critical mass towards decriminalization. A tangible way to help is to first learn more about the decriminalization efforts in your own state. The NORML chapter in your town and the Drug Policy Alliance are great places to start your advocacy. Additionally, research the positions held by your local elected officials regarding the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis and write to make them aware of the views of the constituency they represent.

We look forward to seeing how the next few years unfold and hope to celebrate full decriminalization of cannabis sooner than we all originally expected!

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