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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

OPINION: Biden needs to continue push to legalize marijuana


President Joe Biden has made a step in the right direction in the fight to decriminalize marijuana. However, he needs to do more.

On Oct. 6, Biden announced that he would be pardoning all federal offenses of possessing marijuana. While this decision does not account for state-by-state offenses of marijuana possession, Biden encouraged state governments to follow suit.

What Biden did here was set a precedent that marijuana is not something that should send someone to jail. This is only a baby step, as possessing marijuana is still a federal crime. Pardoning those already in jail only goes that far – someone can still get arrested for having a small amount of marijuana.

It’s also important to note that Vice President Kamala Harris has a notorious record for prosecuting marijuana possession offenses when she was attorney general in her home state of California between 2011 and 2017.

Over 1,500 people were prosecuted and jailed following Harris’ rulings during her tenure as attorney general for the exact “crime” that Biden is pardoning nearly 6,500 people for.

During a Texas Democratic Party event on Oct. 9, Harris said, “The bottom line there is: Nobody should have to go to jail for smoking weed.” So why was she so adamant about prosecuting people for it just five years ago?

While this isn’t Biden’s record, it’s still important to point out the Vice President’s actions.

In order to bring justice to those who have been needlessly thrown in jail for marijuana possession, marijuana must be legalized.

A common, yet misconceived, argument against legalization of marijuana is that it is a gateway drug. However, evidence to suggest this is sparse at most. Most people who use marijuana do not progress to using harder substances like cocaine or heroin.

In a country where a substance as harmful and frequently deadly as alcohol is legal and easily accessible, it would stand to reason that marijuana is legal. Alcohol is exponentially more dangerous than marijuana use.

If the argument at hand here was that marijuana should be illegal because it is dangerous, then why is a substance like alcohol legal? If the war on drugs was about public safety, a substance like alcohol would be outlawed, not marijuana. According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use accounts for 140,000 deaths every year in the United States.

Those numbers simply do not exist for marijuana usage. In a country where a state like Massachusetts has dispensaries that look like fancy tech stores, why should someone living in another state be thrown in jail for having the same substance?

It’s also imperative to look at arrests for marijuana possession. White people and Black people use marijuana at virtually identical rates, yet Black people are four times more likely to be arrested than white people.

Biden said it himself: no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. But he needs to do more than just pardon those already in jail. Legalize marijuana so that no one else goes to prison for this. It’s only what’s right.

~ Follow Ashley on Twitter!


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About the Contributor
Ashley Ness
Ashley Ness, Opinion Editor | she/her
Ashley is a senior from Jacksonville, Florida. She is majoring in psychology with a minor in women’s and gender studies. In her free time, she enjoys going to record stores, collecting funky socks, and playing solitaire. You can also catch her cracking puns. Ashley plans to become a mental health counselor one day.
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    Brian KellyOct 11, 2022 at 9:14 pm

    Cannabis consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide Federally Now!

    The “War on Cannabis” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our yearly tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Cannabis”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. Especially now, due to Covid-19. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Cannabis has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records. Especially, if they happen to be of the “wrong” skin color or they happen to be from the “wrong” neighborhood. Which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Cannabis is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less cannabis “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Cannabis Legalization Initiative!

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OPINION: Biden needs to continue push to legalize marijuana