Most voters doubt that President Joe Biden will follow through on his campaign promises to reform federal marijuana laws, according to the results of a recently released Economist/YouGov poll.

On the campaign trail, Biden insisted, “No one should be in jail because of marijuana.” He pledged, “As President, [I] will decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions.” Thus far, however, the White House has made almost no mention of the issue.

That fact has not gone unnoticed by voters. Fifty-six percent of those polled agreed that the President has made little or no progress on the issue, while 23 percent were unsure. Looking forward, an even greater majority said that they did not expect the President to take any substantive action on the issue in 2022.

Although the President cannot repeal the federal prohibition of marijuana by executive order, he can take steps unilaterally to follow through on several of his campaign promises – such as granting amnesty to those with federal convictions for certain marijuana-related crimes. 

NORML has previously urged the White House to issue pardons for those convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses, as have several members of Congress.

“President Biden was crystal clear on the campaign trail that his administration would prioritize criminal justice reform, and he explicitly highlighted his desire to expunge the records of those suffering from the stigma of a federal marijuana conviction,” NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri said“Following through on this campaign promise would be an important first step in remedying the past wrongs associated with nearly a century of marijuana prohibition and healing the wounds of the many Americans who have needlessly suffered under this failed public policy. In 2022, it is readily apparent that the criminalization of cannabis, and the lifelong lost opportunities that come with a criminal marijuana conviction, causes far greater harm than the responsible use of cannabis itself.”

A copy of NORML’s letter to President Biden.


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