Many see federal marijuana pardons as big move to decriminalization

President Joe Biden’s move toward decriminalizing marijuana could have a big impact in Michigan, even with medical and recreational weed already legal here.
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:30 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - President Joe Biden’s move toward decriminalizing marijuana could have a big impact here in Michigan, even with medical and recreational weed already legal here.

Read: Biden pardons thousands for ‘simple possession’ of marijuana

“It’s a big step forward. It’s a sign more is coming,” said Ryan Basore, Redemption Cannabis.

Basore served four years in federal prison after being convicted of making and distributing marijuana, despite following Michigan law.

Thursday, President Biden pardoned all federal convictions for simple marijuana possession. Basore’s conviction doesn’t apply.

“It shouldn’t have been illegal in the first place. It was the most commonly used form of medicine in the United States in the 1800s,” said Basore.

Marijuana is currently a schedule 1 drug under federal law, which means it legally does not have a medical purpose. Biden is asking the health and justice departments to consider changing that.

Polls taken over the last year have consistently shown a majority of Americans want pot legalized, but Smart Approaches to Marijuana is working to prevent that from happening.

“HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) in the Obama administration actually determined there weren’t accepted medical uses for marijuana,” said Jordan Davidson, Smart Approaches to Marijuana spokesman.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana is a national group fighting marijuana legalization. It paid for most of the opposition to Michigan’s efforts to legalize pot.

Davidson said he’s happy for the people who’ve been pardoned but argues marijuana should still be illegal.

“We don’t want a popular opinion or what someone thinks to influence what the facts really are,” said Davidson.

The federal government said right now there’s no one in federal prison for just possessing marijuana. The Michigan Department of Corrections told News 10 the same is true for the state.

Michigan voters approved medical marijuana in 2008 and recreational use in 2018.

Michiganders can file to get misdemeanor marijuana convictions expunged from their record.

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