Six U.S. senators last week sent a letter to President Joe Biden (D) urging him to use his executive authority to deschedule cannabis and issue pardons to all individuals convicted of non-violent cannabis crimes.
The signatories include Democratic Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker (D), Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D), and independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The group had previously sent a letter asking the Biden Administration – namely the Department of Justice – to deschedule cannabis in October and in the recent letter noted that the response to their inquiry took more than six months and was a half-page that noted the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had determined “cannabis has not been proven in scientific studies to be a safe and effective treatment for any disease or condition.” In the recent letter, the senators say that response “ignores the ability of the DOJ and Drug Enforcement Administration to begin the descsheduling process and act independently of an HHS determination.”
The senators said the administration has still not responded to a November letter they sent to the president asking him “to pardon all individuals convicted of non-violent cannabis offenses, whether formerly or currently incarcerated.” In April, Biden pardoned nine individuals convicted of non-violent cannabis crimes, but the senators say “much more has to be done to address the racist and harmful legacy of cannabis policies on Black and Brown communities.”
“The legacy of the war on drugs is pervasive,” the senators write. “It is estimated that over 40,000 individuals are still incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses.”
The letter calls out the administration for failing “to coordinate a timely review of its cannabis policy” which the senators say “is harming thousands of Americans, slowing research, and depriving Americans of their ability to use marijuana for medical or other purposes.”
All of the letter signatories represent states that have legalized cannabis for adults.
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