President Joe Biden announced that he was granting pardons to all individuals convicted on minor federal marijuana possession charges; ex-convicts on such charges would also have their criminal records expunged. President Biden also asked governors to take similar steps regarding state-level cannabis offences. In addition, the president asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to expeditiously review the scheduling of marijuana in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.
These actions of the head of state come at a time when the country is gearing up for midterm elections in a few weeks, and experts say the announcements of the president are likely to affect the way voters view the marijuana legalization ballot measures before them in at least five states. At the moment, 19 states have legal markets for recreational marijuana and dozens more run medical marijuana programs. According to Eddie Armstrong, a leading campaigner for the legalization of adult-use marijuana in Arkansas, this is clear proof that states are providing the leadership needed to respond to the evolving needs of citizens. According to this former state-level lawmaker, the federal government is being shown the way it should take by the states which have enacted cannabis reforms.
Armstrong believes that Biden’s directives are likely to sway undecided Arkansas voters toward supporting the legalization effort even though the state is strongly Republican. After all, it was the first in the region to approve medical cannabis back in 2016. This was also through a voter initiative.
In nearby Missouri, there is a voter initiative as well that seeks to end the prohibition of marijuana. John Payne, who is leading Legal Missouri 2022 in the push to have recreational cannabis legalized at the ballot this year, says that the call for governors to pardon those in jail for simple cannabis possession and expunge similar records could benefit hundreds of thousands within the state. However, his view is that Missouri residents know that there is distinction between federal policy and state policy. He therefore doesn’t see that apparent change of heart at the White House will significantly influence how Missouri voters cast their ballots next month.
In a similar vein, campaigners for marijuana legalization in North Dakota don’t intend to tweak their messaging in order to incorporate Biden’s declarations about the absurdity of jailing people for simple cannabis possession. Mark Freise, who once served as a police officer and transitioned into a lawyer in North Dakota, says historically, the state hasn’t paid a lot of attention to prosecuting simple cannabis possession; he notes there is likely to be no impact after the call made by Biden. Freise is the treasurer of the group pushing for recreational marijuana legalization in North Dakota.
When all is said and done, the marijuana industry across the country and its established actors such as American Cannabis Partners look forward to seeing more states ending prohibition so that the industry can make positive contributions towards creating employment, generating tax revenue and helping to rebuild communities.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to American Cannabis Partners are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/ACP
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