New Federal Cannabis Policy Requires More Than Simple Reclassifications

joe biden speaking
Tremain Prioleau II
June 3, 2024

A federal proposal to reclassify cannabis wouldn't legalize marijuana for recreational use but it could make some impactful changes. So what are advocates saying about this reclassification? And what does it mean for Black people?

So far 24 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 14 allow medical uses.  Advocates believe that this federal change could help influence dozens of states that have outlawed cannabis or heavily restricted its access to consider changing their views and policies. However, this proposal overlooks one big thing.

It does nothing to address or expunge the records of many Black people imprisoned for drug charges. Decades of a drug war largely waged against Black communities make this a severe oversight on the part of the administration.

No one is getting out of prison because of this. If this administration wants to atone for the war on drugs, then the prisoners of that war should be compensated in more ways than one. This policy change is a small step toward change but we need much more.

This move by the Biden administration won’t repair the pain and suffering cannabis policies have caused for our community. But decades of Black organizing have brought us to this point, and now it is time to demand more from the establishment and obtain true reparations for our communities.