The country overwhelmingly supports President Biden’s historic moves on U.S. marijuana policy, according to a survey released on Tuesday.
The new poll, which comes via Politico and Morning Consult, found that 40% of Americans “strongly support” the president’s actions, while 25% “somewhat support” them.
Biden announced last week that he is issuing pardons to all individuals who have previously been convicted of a marijuana-related offense under federal law, a move that will impact thousands of Americans. Perhaps just as significantly, Biden said that he has asked “the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law,” a signal that the era of federal weed prohibition could be coming to an end.
That is welcome news to the vast majority of the country, according to the new poll.
Politico reported that almost “two-thirds of voters indicated that they support issuing pardons to people with nonviolent federal marijuana convictions,” compared with “fewer than one in four respondents [who] expressed opposition to pardoning marijuana offenders.”
The poll also suggests that Biden’s announcement last week broke through the ultra-saturated news cycle, with Politico reporting that more than “two thirds of respondents said they had heard a lot or some about the executive actions, while just 32 percent said they hadn’t heard much or anything about them.”
While Biden’s pardons only apply to individuals with federal pot convictions, the president urged “all Governors to do the same with regard to state offenses.”
“As I often said during my campaign for President, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden said in his announcement last week. “Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
He also framed the announcement as a significant first step toward decriminalization.
“Federal law currently classifies marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the classification meant for the most dangerous substances. This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD, and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic,” Biden said.
“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” the president continued. “It’s time that we right these wrongs.”
With the midterm elections a little less than one month away, Democrats are hoping that Biden’s actions provide them with a lift.
On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris touted Biden’s moves as a difference between the two parties, while also calling on both Congress and state elected officials to follow the administration’s lead.
“Let me just start with saying this. I strongly believe, and the majority of Americans agree, nobody should have to go to jail for smoking weed, right?” Harris said during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers. “We’re urging governors and states to take our lead and to pardon people who have been criminalized for possession of marijuana. And ultimately though, as with so many issues, if Congress acts, then there is a uniform approach to this and so many other issues. But Congress needs to act.”
“We’re 29 days away from the midterms,” the vice president added. “Ask who you’re voting for where they stand on this, and I encourage you to vote accordingly.”
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