Six liberal senators are prodding President Biden to pardon prior cannabis offenders and compel the Department of Justice to reclassify the drug, a sign that members of the president’s own party are disappointed by a lack of progress on the issue.
“The administration’s failure to coordinate a timely review of its cannabis policy is harming thousands of Americans, slowing research, and depriving Americans of their ability to use marijuana for medical or other purposes,” wrote Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Ed Markey of Massachusetts Ron Wyden of Oregon and Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent.
Mr. Biden vowed during the 2020 campaign to decriminalize marijuana and expunge past convictions related to the drug.
The Democrat-led House voted in April to decriminalize the drug at the federal level, though some lawmakers are disappointed by a lack of action by the Justice Department.
The senators want the DOJ to use its authority under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 to remove cannabis from the list of Schedule I drugs.
They said the DOJ took six months to send an “extraordinarily disappointing” half-page response that blamed the lack of action on the fact that “cannabis has not been proven in scientific studies to be a safe and effective treatment for any disease or condition.”
“It is obvious that cannabis has widely accepted medical benefits, affirmed by medical and scientific communities both here and across the globe,” the senators said. “There is widespread public support for cannabis legalization, with around two-thirds of the public supporting the legalization of cannabis.”
The senators also urged Mr. Biden to pick up the pace in using pardon powers to help people locked up for prior cannabis offenses.
“We commend President Biden’s recent pardons and commutations of 78 people, including nine with non-violent cannabis-related offenses,” the senators wrote. “However, much more has to be done to address the racist and harmful legacy of cannabis policies on Black and Brown communities.”