Since President Nixon began the War On Drugs in 1971, more than 8 million Americans have been arrested on charges related to cannabis. Many of these charges were simple possession charges despite them being treated as distribution and trafficking charges. This month, October 2022, President Biden has announced an executive order granting clemency to thousands of federally convicted citizens. The question now is how will this order affect future charges? How will it affect the cannabis industry, and perhaps most importantly, how will it affect the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis?
We first have to take a look at how a majority of Americans feel about cannabis, and the cannabis industry. In 1969 only 12 percent of Americans agreed with legalization. That is a drastically lower percentage than today’s whopping 68 percent approval. Today approximately half of republicans, who have historically opposed cannabis, are now in agreement cannabis should be approved for use with nine in ten agreeing it should be approved for at least medical use. With cannabis still being classified as a schedule I drug, it has made studying the plant difficult. As more and more states push for legalization it will, hopefully, make study and research of cannabis not only simpler, but more accessible.
On the topic of legalization, it still remains illegal on the federal level. However, on a state level things are a little different, with 19 states currently legalizing cannabis at a recreational level, and 38 states having provisions for medical use. The remaining 5 states currently have cannabis legalization on their voting ballots. Many Americans believe this to be an excellent first step at reversing the injustices created by former president Nixon whose war on drugs has been more of a war on black and hispanic communities.
“Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit…and while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.” This was a statement made by President Biden last week on the topic of cannabis and his plans for future legalization. As it stands currently more than 6,500 prisoners will benefit from President Biden’s executive order as it will not only release these citizens, but also give them a fresh slate in regards to simple cannabis related federal convictions. Thousands of people have been charged with simple possession and have as an unnecessary consequence missed out on job opportunities, faced social ridicule, and overall injustice. It is the hope of the Biden administration and millions of other Americans that this will change the overall course of over-policing in black and hispanic communities and begin the steps towards TRUE equality within the United States.
Now obviously many companies, including Snapdragon Hemp, involved with the cannabis industry are excited by these statements and movements. But what do they mean? From an objective standpoint it means more distribution, more cannabis sales and overall more cannabis users. The cannabis industry raked in a massive $25 billion last year alone, with projected sales as high as $55 billion by 2026. While increasing sales are always fantastic news for a struggling economy, it also means better research and more studies on the beneficial effects of cannabis for use in natural medicine. Many Americans have begun to step away from conventional methods of pain management, treating depression and anxiety among many other medical diagnoses. These orders and steps will help in fighting corruption from overpriced pharmaceutical companies and bring everyone to a better knowledge of this incredibly misunderstood plant.
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