With the MORE Act stimulating cannabis legalization at state levels and medical cannabis awareness growing, a new poll has shown that most Americans favor expunging the records of those who have been convicted of cannabis-related crimes.
An approximated 70% of the total respondents agreed to the expunging of previously convicted cannabis crimes that were classified as non-violent, as per the survey conducted by YouGov.com.
Only a small minority of 17% of respondents completely rejected the idea. At the state level, a bill in favor of decriminalizing cannabis consumption and expunging non-violent cannabis convictions was presented in the House of Representatives. The bill was passed with a 228-164 vote. However, only five Republican members of the House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill.
A Republican congressman also appeared to criticize the bill by making a statement directed at the Speaker of the House. “With a few days left in this year to do something for the betterment of suffering Americans, what’s being brought up is a drug legalization bill,” said the GOP representative from Minnesota to the New York Times.
Pete Stauber, another member of the House of Representatives, stated “While our children are struggling to get their rightful education and people are suffering in isolation, they’ve come to find the legalization of a drug to be the solution.” Disregarding the fact that expunging records of those with a past non-violent cannabis conviction could greatly help a large number of Americans in the effort to better their lives. Expunging the record could help them to be able to get better jobs, housing and be eligible for many other things that even a non-violent drug conviction can exclude them from – especially now that cannabis is on the road to decriminalization.
Despite all the opposition from Republicans, the 228-164 vote on the bill proved to be bipartisan. It was the first time in America’s history when Congress’s chamber approved a bill proposing to decriminalize cannabis.
The bill is likely to contribute to seeing cannabis abolished from the list of controlled substances and the Schedule I drugs, to which it has belonged for many decades. Additionally, the bill authorizes a 5% tax on cannabis that would eventually contribute to the community’s betterment and programs supporting people most impacted by “the war on drugs” and cannabis criminalization.
The bill still has to be approved by the Senate, which seems as though it still might be a hurdle.
Though the Senate is now in control of Democrats by a slim margin of 51-50 with Vice President Harris being the tie-breaking vote, many Republican senators see this bill as a distraction from what’s being done for the public during the pandemic. Despite all, hopes are high for the passage of the bill by the senate due to public interests and emphasizing the economic significance of legalizing cannabis.
After a lot of effort, the bill has been formulated. From preparing the advocates of medical marijuana to laying out the expansive framework of the bill, which addresses the conventional disparities found in the widely accepted criminal justice system.
The long-implemented regulations on cannabis cultivation, processing, and consumption have negatively affected the economy. It has kept many belonging to disadvantaged communities unfairly unemployed for long periods of time, which has contributed to creating a wealth gap and to the establishment of second-class status for so many Americans, according to Mr. Nadler, one of the supervisors of the legislation. “The primary objective behind this legislation is to found a wholesome community and compensate for the losses of those who’ve suffered,” he further added.
Overall, this legislation is meant to empower states in their decisions and allow them to make reforms over cannabis consumption in alignment with where their values stand and what their citizens demand. Consequently, it has flipped many states’ previous stances on cannabis towards decriminalization, even those states that seemed to be conservative in this matter.
Fifteen states in America have recently legalized cannabis as an outcome, and five more are voting over the issue – making a total of 35 American states where cannabis is or most likely will be legalized. An important aspect of the law is that it works in favor of those who have been convicted of nonviolent cannabis crimes. It calls for the courts to recognize the harm this conviction has played and to release those who are serving sentences for a drug that is on the road to decriminalization and formulate programs for their empowerment.
These programs will be designed to help those get back on their feet and may include basic needs such as employment, food, and housing. The law also emphasizes issuing funds for low-income medical marijuana businesses and those interested in entering the industry. The Department of Veteran Affairs has been asked to allow their physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients in need for the first time in history, as well. The overall support Americans are showing for the expungement of cannabis crimes seem to be fair.
You see, almost 40% of the total arrests that have been made in 2018 were for low-level cannabis crimes. And more surprisingly, 90% of those arrested were found guilty of processing cannabis. Also, the arrests made for cannabis procession included four times more black Americans than white Americans, according to the report published by the American Civil Liberties Union. This speaks to a greater systemic issue that American citizens are currently examining and learning how to find the disparities in all aspects of government systems in order to right them. Therefore, the opposition must understand the sensitivity and take adequate actions on the bill.
“Cannabis consumption could be either an illegal offense or something completely acceptable”, says Hakeem Jefferies, a Democratic representative. “There’s no in-between – you cannot make it acceptable for some and unacceptable for the next neighborhood, especially when the only point differentiating them is race and color.” Though it will take some time, things are starting to fall into place. Now that most Americans support expunging cannabis crimes and are starting to realize the gap between the race of those imprisoned for cannabis-crimes and all those who use cannabis, the Senate will have to make the right decision – sooner or later.
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