Fetterman Calls On Biden To Decriminalize Cannabis, But White House Defers To States

Zinger Key Points
  • During his campaign, Biden supported marijuana decriminalization as well as expungement of prior cannabis convictions.
  • Senate candidate John Fetterman calls on Biden to deschedule marijuana ahead of a visit to Pittsburg.

The Biden administration is still behind in its campaign promise to work on decriminalizing marijuana.

That's according to what White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a news briefing on Monday.

This came as a response to Pennsylvania's Lt. Gov. and Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman who this week urged President Joe Biden to deschedule cannabis.

What Happened 

Fetterman issued a press release on Monday calling on Biden to deschedule marijuana ahead of a visit to Pittsburg.

"It's long past time that we finally decriminalize marijuana," said Fetterman in a press release. "The president needs to use his executive authority to begin descheduling marijuana, I would love to see him do this prior to his visit to Pittsburgh.”

Fetterman will march in Pittsburgh's Annual Labor Day parade next week and hopes to speak at the event about the need to decriminalize marijuana.

Biden is also scheduled to visit Pittsburgh for a separate event during the same holiday.

When asked if Biden agrees with Fetterman, Jean-Pierre said she doesn’t “have anything right now to announce.” When it comes to drugs, the highest priority for the administration is addressing an overdose crisis, she explained.

“But at the same time, President Biden believes that there are too many people serving unduly long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, a disproportionate number of whom are black and brown,” she said. "That's why in April, during the Second Chance Month, President Biden announced 17 sentences, commutations, and three pardons, which are more grants of clemency at this point in a presidency than any of his five recent predecessors."

Biden supports having the states address legalization, as well as rescheduling cannabis as a schedule II drug to enable researchers to study its positive and negative impacts, Jean-Pierre explained.

"And at the federal level, he supports decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging any prior criminal records," she added. "We don't have anything to announce today at this point, but just wanted to lay that for you."

What About Executive Authority? 

Later on, another reporter revisited the marijuana question and asked Jean-Pierre if Biden is considering using his executive power to decriminalize cannabis.

“Again, we don’t have anything new to share or any announcement to share,” Jean-Pierre said. “This is something that he has talked about during the campaign, and you’ve heard from him many other times talking about his drug policy focus and what’s important to him. We just don’t have anything to speak to.”

See Also: Kamala Harris Pledges To Decriminalize Marijuana, Expunge Records At VP Debate

“He’s going to continue to evaluate further uses of this clemency powers,” Jean-Pierre said. “And as it relates to marijuana decriminalization, we just don’t have anything at this time.”

Jean-Piere further highlighted how the Biden administration has made progress on some of its cannabis-related promises referring to the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) historic move this January when it ended a five-decade federal monopoly and finally authorized two cannabis companies to harvest marijuana for research purposes. 

The press secretary added that the White House will continue to explore other possible reforms, repeating once again that they don’t have anything to share right now.

What did Biden promise exactly? 

During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden repeatedly said that he wanted to see marijuana decriminalization as well as automatic expungement of prior cannabis convictions. 

Photo: Benzinga Edit; Sources: Shutterstock and Governor Tom Wolf from Harrisburg, PA via Wikimedia Commons

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsPoliticsMarketsGeneralBidenBiden CannabisDEAfederal cannabis decriminalizationJohn FettermanKarine Jean-Pierremarijuana reform
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