The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Biden’s marijuana pardon is a step in the right direction

For decades, the POC community has been  a target when it comes to getting arrested for the possession of Marijuana even for the smallest amounts. It’s no secret that the state of California is the largest Cannabis market in the nation, and it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. Since 1996, the medical use of Marijuana has been legalized in California and recreational in November 2016. 

President Joe Biden, under federal law, has pardoned people who have been convicted of marijuana possession. This will clear everyone who got charged with simple possession since it became a crime in the 1970s. 

Cheyenne Dredge, a Sonoma State junior majoring in Wine Business stated, “ I think it’s great and a step in the right direction. I don’t think anyone should be in jail for using marijuana.” 

During 2020, roughly 350,000 people were arrested on marijuana-related offenses and 91% were only for possession. One exception of the pardon is if you’re charged with marijuana and cocaine possession under a single offense, you don’t qualify.

Some people who have been caught with marijuana receive harsher punishments that are typically reserved for violent crimes such as rape and murder, even though they present no threat to society. 

A SSU junior majoring in Business, Mia, stated, “ From my current understanding marijuana is legal now so why keep people who are in jail for using then? I really feel that it’s a good thing especially for the federal prison so other people more deserving of going to federal prison now can. They shouldn’t be in jail for something legal even if it was illegal at the time. I believe that keeping them in jail just isn’t worth it.”

Biden’s pardon power is limited to only the federal criminal cases which doesn’t include state, but he’s encouraging state governors to do the same. Hopefully, governors will take this into consideration because it’ll make a big breakthrough in our corrupt prison system. 

In a video announcing his executive decision, President Biden said, “And that’s before you address the racial disparities around who suffers the consequences. While White and Black and Brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and Brown people are arrested, prosecuted and convicted at disproportionate rates.” 

Jocelyne Gerardo, a Spring ‘22 graduate who majored in psychology stated, “Biden’s decision to pardon all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession was the right decision. Majority of the individuals arrested for this crime were Black and brown.” 

Gerardo, a POC, grew up in a low-income community where this problem was prevalent and exposed to this at a young age. Gerardo stated, “This drug is considered to be on the same level as heroin. This doesn’t make any sense when you take the time to research both drugs. Biden had promised this when he was running for presidency, so it’s nice that he kept his side of the deal.” Currently, the federal government classifies marijuana in the same category as heroin and LSD, which is more serious than fentanyl, but his administration is reviewing this. 

In low-income neighborhoods, many are exposed to the idea marijuana due to it being a booming business. They either turn to growing or selling because of how high in demand it is especially in California. 

Approximately 2 million people have been expunged or pardoned. For people who have been previously charged it won’t appear on their felony record and can now rent an apartment or buy a house without having that baggage on their shoulders. This is such a huge step in our government for all those members of the POC community who have been wronged. It doesn’t get rid of the fact that most of their life was taken away from them, but now they can start fresh. 

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