Pardons to Policy: Biden’s Focus on Marijuana Reform Ahead of Election

Marijuana reform

In an e-mail circulated recently, the Biden reelection campaign criticized the Trump administration for reversing Justice Department guidance on marijuana reform. They highlighted Vice President Kamala Harris’s discussion with pardon recipients and contrasted it with former President Donald Trump’s record on criminal justice reform.

The Biden-Harris campaign emphasized various criminal justice initiatives while pointing out Trump’s failures in this area. They specifically mentioned the Trump administration’s withdrawal of guidelines that limited prosecutions of marijuana offenses allowed under state laws.

This action referred to Trump’s first attorney general Jeff Sessions rescinding the Cole Memorandum, which outlined federal cannabis enforcement priorities. Despite concerns about potential federal crackdowns, states have largely continued legalizing marijuana without interference.

Although the Biden campaign criticized the prior administration’s move, they didn’t mention any reissued cannabis guidance under the current administration. Attorney General Merrick Garland had indicated addressing the issue, but nothing has materialized yet.

Democratic lawmakers expressed frustration over the delay, calling it “unacceptable” and leaving Americans in a legal limbo. However, the Biden campaign’s emphasis on marijuana reform showcases their focus on bolstering votes from younger adults in advance of the November 2024 election.

Biden-Harris campaign spokesperson James Singer highlighted the contrast between Biden’s approach to pardoning nonviolent drug offenders and Trump’s rhetoric on violence. This messaging reflects their commitment to criminal justice reform.

Additionally, both POTUS Biden and VP Harris utilized social media on 4/20 to promote marijuana policy reform, indicating their continued support. Biden even discussed cannabis reform in his recent State of the Union address.

Earlier this month, Biden, Harris, and a Justice Department official recognized “Second Chance Month” by highlighting the administration’s mass marijuana pardons. This, they claim, demonstrates their ongoing prioritization of cannabis reform as the election approaches.

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