GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)-The Biden administration announced pardons for thousands of people convicted of marijuana possession under federal law.
Biden’s move also covers those convicted in Washington D.C. The pardons don’t cover those who possessed marijuana with intent to distribute it or those who produce it.
“Criminal records for marijuana possession create needless barriers for employment housing and educational opportunities,” said President Biden.
President Biden is also asking all governors to expunge records for state marijuana possession convictions. Of course, the governors have the final say on whether they follow through with it.
He also asked the secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to take marijuana off the schedule one list of drugs which includes substances like heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration defines a schedule one drug as one with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
“Too many lives have been upended by our failed approach to marijuana,” said President Biden. “It’s time to right these wrongs.”
Those who celebrated the announcement hope it’s the first step towards something bigger: the federal decriminalization of marijuana.
“It’s going to happen and what I think Biden is doing is starting it down the road,” said Andrew Hysell who is an attorney for Lawton & Cates.
Hysell said that over 50 percent of drug arrests in Wisconsin are for marijuana. The ACLU also reports that minorities are disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession compared to white people.
“It’s something that wastes police resources and wastes taxpayer resources,” said Hysell.
Hysell said that legalizing marijuana would create a major revenue source for the state.
“It’s actually one of the most regulated industries now in other states much more so than alcohol which by the way contributes to a lot of crime specifically drinking and driving,” said Hysell.
In the spring, a bill called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act passed the US House of Representatives. The bill would decriminalize marijuana and now moves to the Senate.
It passed 220-204 in the House of Representatives.
“Record crime, record inflation, record gas prices, record number of illegal immigrants crossing our Southern border and what are Democrats doing today? Legalizing drugs,” said Republican representative Jim Jordan from Ohio.
In Wisconsin, marijuana is illegal for both medical and recreational use.
“I know that Governor Evers keeps on proposing this and the Republican legislature has blocked it again and again,” said Hysell.
Some Wisconsin republicans have begun to show support for legalizing medical marijuana. In the spring there was a public hearing for a medical marijuana bill sponsored by republican senator Mary Felzkowski.
“I think it’s time to have this conversation and I’m very grateful we are having it,” said Felzkowski.
Governor Tony Evers has been a strong proponent of legal marijuana in Wisconsin. During his time as governor, he has made over 600 pardons many of them for marijuana possession convictions.
His opponent in the gubernatorial race Tim Michels has said he’s against the legalization of marijuana.
The latest Marquette University law poll found that 69 percent of respondents would like to see marijuana legal in the United States.