Pardon Me and My Marijuana

Last week, the White House took yet another step toward ending the failed and destructive War on Drugs.

President Joe Biden on December 22 pardoned thousands of people who were convicted of use and simple possession of marijuana on federal lands and in the District of Columbia. The move expands a similar round of pardons announced shortly before the 2022 midterm elections.

Biden’s Friday proclamation also granted pre-Christmas prison commutations to 11 people serving what the White House called “disproportionately long” sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.

Biden, in a statement, said his actions would help make the “promise of equal justice a reality.”

“Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” Biden said. “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. The White House is seeking to remove those barriers.

The decision on marijuana comes as part of the administration’s broader commitment to criminal justice reform, acknowledging the disproportionate impact of drug laws on marginalized communities and addressing the long-standing issue of mass incarceration.

The Unjust War on Drugs

One of the key motivations behind the pardons is the acknowledgment that marijuana-related convictions have cruelly penalized Black and Hispanic individuals.

The War on Drugs, launched in 1971 by then-President Nixon, targeted minority communities, leading to a surge in arrests and convictions for nonviolent drug offenses.

Studies consistently show that Black and Hispanic individuals are more likely to be arrested, convicted, and sentenced to longer prison terms for marijuana offenses compared to their white counterparts, despite similar rates of use across racial groups.

Evidence has since come to light that the persecution of minorities via draconian drug laws was Nixon’s intention all along. Nixon also sought to criminalize his critics on the left, who tended to partake of marijuana. He couldn’t criminalize their political opposition, but he could bludgeon them for their leisure activities.

By pardoning these marijuana convictions, President Biden aims to address the systemic racial disparities that have plagued the criminal justice system for decades.

Political Motivations

Biden’s announcement also represents a shrewd political calculation. The latest polls show that more than two in three Americans (70%) support legalizing marijuana (see chart).

With the 2024 elections getting closer, President Biden is playing to his base. Democratic enthusiasm will be key to his reelection efforts, and marijuana legalization is popular throughout the country, especially among Democrats.

Biden also seeks to motivate younger voters, who tend to vote Democratic and support marijuana normalization, but typically turn out in low numbers. But it’s not just young liberals he’s aiming to motivate. He’s also appealing to the broader public. Conservative older voters are embracing marijuana as well, with legalization efforts emerging in “red states.”

In 2024, the next front in the marijuana legalization battle will be right-wing bastions south of the Mason-Dixon line. Political polarization is alive and well, but in a remarkable shift, more and more Republican lawmakers are getting aboard the legalization bandwagon.

The Coming ‘Green Wave’

The increasing legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana is one of the biggest business trends unfolding today. Pot is becoming a multibillion-dollar industry, with profound implications for consumer society.

As the industry grows, it will revitalize communities and ancillary businesses, by creating more jobs for citizens of varied educational levels and skill sets. As legalization spreads throughout the U.S., it will spawn new industries, a need for product innovation, and force existing companies to rethink their products and services.

Want to profit from the marijuana trends that I’ve just described? I suggest you read my book: The Wide World of Weed and Psychedelics.

This concise, clear, easy-to-read book reveals everything you need to know about the wide world of legal weed and psychedelics.

My book is your definitive guide for making money in the psychotropic revolution. This megatrend is poised for a breakout year in 2024; the time to get aboard is now. Click here for your copy.

John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily

Subscribe to John’s video channel:

This article previously appeared on Investing Daily.