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Biden Announces Federal Action on Marijuana Reform

Currently, marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug, grouping it in the same category as heroin and Ecstasy. A review could result in the drug being rescheduled to a lesser category or de-scheduled entirely, the latter of which would likely allow states to legalize marijuana without conflicting with federal law.

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Pres. Joe Biden. WhiteHouse.gov photo.
Pres. Joe Biden. WhiteHouse.gov photo.

By Brandon Patterson

President Joe Biden recently announced major federal action on marijuana reform, declaring that he was initiating pardons for all federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana and urging governors to do the same at the state level. He also announced that his administration would review how marijuana is classified under federal law.

Currently, marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug, grouping it in the same category as heroin and Ecstasy. A review could result in the drug being rescheduled to a lesser category or de-scheduled entirely, the latter of which would likely allow states to legalize marijuana without conflicting with federal law.

The pardons, once finalized, would erase records for everyone convicted of simple possession at the federal level since it was banned in the 1970s. This would include around 6,500 people convicted between 1992 – the earliest year for which the federal government provided data, according to the New York Times – as well as thousands more in Wash., D.C., which operates under federal drug laws.

There are no people currently serving sentences in federal prison for simple possession, the administration said, but the pardons will eliminate a major hurdle for many formerly incarcerated individuals in finding employment and housing and accessing education and other government aid.

“Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit,” Biden said in a written statement. “Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.”

He continued: “It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

The actions mark an evolution for Biden on drug policy. Numerous policies that Biden advocated during his time as a senator, including the infamous 1994 crime bill, are considered to have laid the foundation for mass incarceration.

Vice President Kamala Harris has also been critiqued for her role in incarcerating people for petty drug offenses as attorney general for California.

Today, the federal government mainly prosecutes traffic offenses related to marijuana, not simple possession. Those charges are almost exclusively prosecuted at the state and local levels.

So, it’s important that the president is “using his bully pulpit” to “signal a new direction in the war on drugs” to the states, said Inimai Chettiar, federal director of the Justice Action Network, according to KQED.

Many California cities are already ahead on this front. For example, chief prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles have moved to expunge thousands of convictions for marijuana convictions in recent years.

Marijuana is already fully legal in about 20 states.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, praised the decision by the Biden administration.

“I commend the Biden Administration for taking this huge step toward commonsense cannabis policy,” Lee said in a written statement on her website. “The war on drugs has ruined countless lives. Ending it is long overdue.”

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Oakland Post: Week of May 15 – 21, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 15 – 21, 2024

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Oakland Post: Week of May 8 – 14, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 8 – 14, 2024

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S.F. Black Leaders Rally to Protest, Discuss ‘Epidemic’ of Racial Slurs Against Black Students in SF Public School System

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored. 

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Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.
Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.

By Carla Thomas

San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church hosted a rally and meeting Sunday to discuss hatred toward African American students of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).

Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church, along with leadership from local civil rights groups, the city’s faith-based community and Black community leadership convened at the church.

“There has been an epidemic of racial slurs and mistreatment of Black children in our public schools in the city,” said Brown. “This will not be tolerated.”

According to civil rights advocate Mattie Scott, students from elementary to high school have reported an extraordinary amount of racial slurs directed at them.

“There is a surge of overt racism in the schools, and our children should not be subjected to this,” said Scott. “Students are in school to learn, develop, and grow, not be hated on,” said Scott. “The parents of the children feel they have not received the support necessary to protect their children.”

Attendees were briefed last Friday in a meeting with SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne.

SFUSD states that their policies protect children and they are not at liberty to publicly discuss the issues to protect the children’s privacy.

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored.

Some parents said they have removed their students from school while other parents and community leaders called on the removal of the SFUSD superintendent, the firing of certain school principals and the need for more supportive school board members.

Community advocates discussed boycotting the schools and creating Freedom Schools led by Black leaders and educators, reassuring parents that their child’s wellbeing and education are the highest priority and youth are not to be disrupted by racism or policies that don’t support them.

Virginia Marshall, chair of the San Francisco NAACP’s education committee, offered encouragement to the parents and students in attendance while also announcing an upcoming May 14 school board meeting to demand accountability over their mistreatment.

“I’m urging anyone that cares about our students to pack the May 14 school board meeting,” said Marshall.

This resource was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library via California Black Media as part of the Stop the Hate Program. The program is supported by partnership with California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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