Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is a longtime opponent of the legalization of marijuana, criticizes Biden

LINCOLN, Nebraska — President Joe Biden is granting amnesty to thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law, as his administration takes a big step toward decriminalizing the drug and addressing charging methods that disproportionately affect people of color.

Thousands of individuals convicted of the felony in the District of Columbia are included in Biden’s action. In addition, he requests that governors provide comparable pardons to those convicted of state marijuana violations, which account for the vast bulk of marijuana possession cases.

Governor Pete Ricketts and Attorney General Doug Peterson issued a joint statement Thursday evening in response to Vice President Joe Biden’s declaration.

“Today’s announcement by the President on marijuana demonstrates once again that he is ignorant and ill-advised on the issues surrounding marijuana. No one in our state’s penal system has been jailed solely for possession of marijuana. Furthermore, the legalization of marijuana in other states has resulted in an increase in drug cartel activity, an increase in driver impairment, and a greater risk for lifelong mental health impairment, especially among adolescents, due to significantly higher THC levels. This is precisely the wrong course for our nation.”

Governor Ricketts has opposed the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in Nebraska for decades. Gov. Ricketts has said marijuana

The unicameral and the governor have rejected it repeatedly.

Biden stated in a statement that the decision reflected his belief that “no one should be imprisoned for smoking or having marijuana.”

Too many lives have been shattered as a result of our disastrous marijuana policy “he continued. It is time to rectify these wrongs.

According to the White House, no one is currently incarcerated for “simple possession” of the drug in federal prison, but the pardon might assist thousands overcome barriers to renting a home or getting a job.

“Thousands of individuals with prior federal convictions for marijuana possession may be denied work, housing, or educational prospects,” he stated. “My action will assist in mitigating the collateral effects of these convictions.”

The pardon does not apply to convictions for possession of other narcotics or production or possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Additionally, Biden would not grant clemency to non-citizens who were arrested while in the United States without legal status.

The declaration represents Biden’s confrontation with the consequences of the 1994 crime legislation he backed, which raised arrest and jail rates for drug charges, especially among Black and Latino individuals.

The Department of Justice is devising a method by which anyone protected by Biden’s pardon can obtain a certificate of pardon, which they can provide to prospective employers and others as necessary.

“The Justice Department will quickly administer the President’s pardon proclamation for simple marijuana possession, restoring political, civil, and other rights to people convicted of this misdemeanor,” “The agency stated in a statement. In the following days, the Office of the Pardon Attorney will establish a procedure to provide pardon certificates to affected individuals.

Biden also instructs the secretary of Health and Human Services and the attorney general of the United States to review the scheduling of marijuana under federal law. A reclassification of the substance would decrease or maybe abolish the criminal penalty for possession. Marijuana is currently categorized as a Schedule I substance, along with heroin and LSD, but before fentanyl and methamphetamine. The White House has not established a deadline for the review.

Biden stated, however, that as the federal government and many states relax marijuana laws, they must preserve restrictions on trafficking, marketing, and sales to minors.

Biden’s action aligns the federal government with other major cities, such as New York, that have been decriminalizing low-level marijuana charges for years. However, there is a significant disagreement in the United States, as some police agencies continue to believe that marijuana leads to more serious crime and that ignoring minor violations emboldens criminals.

Kassandra Frederique, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, described her organization as “thrilled” in response to Biden’s declaration.

“This is extremely overdue,” Frederique stated. “There is no reason why people should have a criminal record for something that is currently lawful in 19 states and D.C. and decriminalized in 31 states, preventing them from gaining work, housing, and countless other chances.”

Uncertain is whether governors will follow Biden’s lead. Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, stated that extending the action to the states would be beneficial to millions of Americans.

“Since 1965, over 29 million Americans have been incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses, which the majority of people no longer feel should be illegal,” he stated.

46-year-old Chris Goldstein was arrested in 2013 for consuming half a joint at a marijuana legalization demonstration at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. He paid a fine of $3,000 and served two years of probation.

“As a supporter of President Biden, I have anticipated this from the moment he took office.” “Goldstein stated. “This was a promise made throughout the campaign.”

As a writer and activist who has been open about his conviction, he is uncertain whether his criminal record prevented him from obtaining employment, but he is aware that it appears in his background checks. And he has avoided traveling abroad because convictions can make international travel difficult.

“I’m ecstatic, and everyone else will be ecstatic as well,” “he remarked.

Rev. Al Sharpton, head of the National Action Network, stated that Biden’s “moral action tonight will restore the lives of countless Americans.” However, he noted, “The United States can never legitimately legalize marijuana unless it addresses the outmoded laws that linked hundreds of young Black men with hardened drug traffickers.””

The decision also satisfies one of the main demands of the Democratic contender in one of their party’s most crucial Senate contests, as Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has frequently urged Biden to take the action, most recently during a meeting in Pittsburgh last month.

In a statement, Fetterman claimed responsibility for boosting the topic on Biden’s agenda and hailed the decision as “a monumental step toward justice.”

Our move by Vice President Biden is precisely what this work should be about: enhancing the lives of individuals. “I commend the president for taking this substantial, essential, and just action to rectify an injustice and improve the lives of millions of Americans,” he said.


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