WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement upon the Biden administration announcement that the President will issue a pardon for all those with federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana and instruct a review of marijuana scheduling by federal agencies:
“The Progressive Caucus applauds this action by President Biden today to advance criminal and racial justice. We are thrilled to see the President use his executive authority to issue these pardons, and his platform to call on governors across the country to join him in this action.
“The ongoing federal prohibition of marijuana is a vestige of the failed, racist War on Drugs that targeted and devastated Black and Brown communities. Studies show a Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Black and white people use marijuana at similar rates. In just one year, Latinos made up 77 percent of federal marijuana sentences, despite making up less than 20 percent of the U.S. population. Progressives have led the fight in Congress for marijuana justice for over two decades, first introducing legislation to ban federal interference with state medical cannabis laws in 2001, and with the leadership of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in 2017. This year, under the leadership of CPC members Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), and Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), the House passed the MORE Act, which in addition to decriminalizing marijuana would remove it from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act, and correct historical and continued injustices resulting from the War on Drugs. We are excited to see the President recognize the need for such reform today in calling for the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to review the process of marijuana scheduling, and we encourage those departments to thoughtfully consider fully descheduling marijuana.
“Today’s pardons will give a fresh start to thousands of people and their families, and offer hope to all those suffering from this country’s history of unjust, racially discriminatory drug policy. They also represent the latest in a number of bold, progressive executive actions this President has ordered, including investing in environmental justice and renewable energy, helping to reduce use of force by police officers and demilitarize law enforcement, and of course canceling student debt. The Progressive Caucus is proud to partner with this administration in progressive governance, and to continue to work together to advance equity and justice, raise wages, lower costs, and address the most urgent issues facing every family who calls America home.”