Are UNLV Students in Support of President Biden’s Marijuana Pardon?

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Marijuana in hands, “Photo Courtesy of Alexander Grey/Pexels”

President Joe Biden made a historic move to address the U.S. drug policy in early October. 

In his statement, Biden declared that he will grant pardons to all people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law. 

Biden also called upon the Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to review if marijuana should continue to remain a Schedule I narcotic under federal law. Currently marijuana is under the same schedule of drugs such as LSD, heroin and ecstacy. 

With this new federal pardon, what stance do UNLV students take on the matter? 

UNLV students are generally in favor of this move, even though perpetrators committed the crime while the law was in effect. 

“I believe it’s a good thing that he’s pardoning people for these minor marijuana crimes because I don’t think the laws should have really been in place,” said Anna Tuch, a fourth year psychology major. 

Taylor LeClere, a third year psychology major said, “If you could get [marijuana] recreationally and it is becoming legal state by state, I don’t see why they have to serve time.” 

She also noted the way the people convicted of simple marijuana possession were treated saying, “the offense that they faced was unnecessary, it was really strong.” 

Josh Mathisen, a freshman communications major said, “I think this is the right call and if anything, I don’t think the President has done enough.” 

Mathisen continued, saying, “I think the history of over sentencing and over policing communities on marijuana possession is horrific and pardoning these folks is the least that could be done.” 

When asked whether this movement should have been done sooner, it came with overwhelming agreement. Mathisen said it should have been done during Obama’s or Trump’s campaign. 

According to the Washington Post, Biden’s pardon does not directly pardon everyone under marijuana related convictions. All marijuana convictions that are still currently in jail are paired with other crimes. About 6,500 people have simple marijuana convictions on their record. Their records will be cleared under the pardon. 

Removing simple marijuana possession from records was one of positives from the pardon. The New York Times says it will allow more people more opportunities like employment, housing and applying to colleges or getting federal benefits.

Officials say thousands more could also be pardoned, specifically those who were convicted under District of Columbia drug laws. Although, this pardon does exclude marijuana distributors and sellers. 

President Biden’s actions work only toward decriminalizing marijuana, not the full legalization of marijuana, but actions will continue to spur more advocacy and efforts to fully legalize it. 

“It’s a really long time coming,” CEO for the Marijuana Policy Project Toi Hutchinson said to the Hill. 

Evidently the federal government is moving toward a potential of full legalization, and the UNLV community is here for it.

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