Fair Trials welcomes Biden’s marijuana reforms and calls on other countries to follow suit

Article by Fair Trials

Criminal justice watchdog Fair Trials has welcomed US President Joe Biden’s marijuana reforms and calls on other countries to follow suit.

In a statement, President Biden called for
• a pardon of all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana;
• State Governors to do the same with state offenses; and
• the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to start a review of how marijuana is classified under federal law.

Currently under U.S. federal law, marijuana is classified at the same level as heroin and at a higher level than fentanyl.

Responding to the announcement, Norman L. Reimer, Global CEO of Fair Trials said:

“We know that cannabis prohibition was bad policy from the start. The harm to individuals and communities from this overcriminalization, as well as from the criminalization of all manner of substance use, has been devastating. The exercise of this clemency power by President Biden, while far from a comprehensive solution, will directly benefit several thousand victims of prohibition and is an important start. Most significantly, the action sets in motion a process that could result in the declassification of marijuana under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.

“In too many nations around the world , cannabis convictions can bring a lifetime of harmful consequences, affecting education and employment opportunities, immigration status and parental rights. Millions of people around the world face such harms, but particularly marginalised and racialised people and those from low socio economic groups.

“More and more countries are recognising that drug prohibition is a failed policy, which is good. But those countries also need to end the harms caused by past prosecution because that is the right thing to do. Sadly, on that front there is a long way to go. We welcome President Biden’s reforms and urge other countries to adopt a similar approach to cannabis (and other substance) use and possession, as well as other minor offences. Drug use is a health issue, and we should support not punish, people who develop substance abuse problems.”

Fair Trials supports the decriminalisation of drug use and possession, and more broadly works with coalitions across movements to find alternative solutions to criminalisation.

Read the White House statement.