Opinion: Legalization Long Overdue

Opinion%3A+Legalization+Long+Overdue

Ravi Baker, Reporter

President Biden recently announced his plans to move forward in the everlong debate over marijuana. Biden stated that he would be pardoning those convicted of certain federal marijuana crimes.

According to the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, marijuana is considered a “Schedule I” substance, making it among the most dangerous substances along with heroin, LSD, and other highly addictive substances that have “no currently accepted medical use.” As we know now, marijuana is very beneficial to those suffering from chronic pain and mental health issues. Forty-one states currently have medical marijuana programs. 

Reconsideration of the policies on marijuana is long overdue, but Biden’s policy could be a step in the right direction to reverse these outdated laws. Biden’s plan would, if executed correctly, alleviate some of the racial disparities that marijuana laws have caused. 

Biden recognized that the marijuana policies created years ago were meant to target Black Americans specifically. Black Americans are more likely to be arrested, prosecuted and convicted for marijuana use, despite using marijuana at the same rate as any other race. 

The new policy could make it easier for people to find jobs, houses, and educational opportunities that were previously unattainable because of their criminal record. The policy would not, however, legalize marijuana on a national level, leaving it up to the states to decide their own policies. 

Recreational marijuana use is legal in 19 states. Kansas is one of the few states where cannabis is illegal in all circumstances, but our state is starting to catch up in the long fight to legalize the beneficial plant. 

Although previous efforts by the Kansas legislature to decriminalize medical marijuana were shut down by the Senate, the issue may be back on the ballot in 2023. Governor Kelly supports the legalization of medical marijuana but has not confirmed a stance on recreational use. 

A reassessment of the marijuana policy on a national level is necessary, and hopefully President Biden will follow through with his plan and make the first steps towards legalizing marijuana nation-wide.