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While Biden took first steps toward rescheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, he must go further.


Contact: danielle@newheightscommunications.com 

NEW YORK – Yesterday, President Biden announced plans to pardon some people charged with simple federal possession of marijuana and encouraged Governors to do the same at the state level. According to reports, he is reviewing the scheduling of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. Officials estimate that this will impact about 6,500 people with federal charges and, potentially, thousands more in D.C. We applaud the President for taking this much-needed action, but we urge him to go further. DaMareo Cooper, Co-Executive Director at Center for Popular Democracy Action released the following statement: 

“Biden’s first step in reducing the harm of some marijuana charges is one that’s long overdue for thousands of Black and brown people. The drug war has ripped apart families and communities, filled prisons, and endangered rather than protected people who use drugs. Racial targeting and discrimination drove up mass incarceration creating a new system of punishment and control for Black and brown people in this country. To enact truly progressive drug policy, President Biden must expand his pardons beyond simple possession and urge Congress to fully deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. We hope yesterday was the first step towards these broader actions. 

“However, because there is currently no one in federal prison for simple possession, not one person will be released from prison through this change. This action will not immediately reduce the prison population. Furthermore, it is unclear how this will materially benefit the people pardoned if those pardons are not accompanied by full expungement of charges. Therefore we urge the president to expunge records and direct DOJ to exercise discretion to not prosecute new offenses. Lastly, this order does not apply to people who are undocumented or not citizens - who are a disproportionate number of those prosecuted for marijuana possession - and who face additional harm from drug enforcement, including deportation.” 

“Moving forward, we must fully divest from punitive approaches to drug use and invest in Harm Reduction programs that keep people safe and respect the dignity of people who use drugs. Before this year ends, we are asking Congress to 1) provide $43 million for the CDC’s Infectious Diseases and Opioid Epidemic program; 2) end the ban on the use of federal funding for syringes; and 3) pass the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, which would eliminate barriers to care for substance use treatment.  

“Lastly, we are asking President Biden and the Department of Justice to authorize the creation of Overdose Prevention Centers nationwide, which have been proven to significantly reduce overdose.

“CPD’s Ending the War on Drugs Network—led by the work of our affiliates VOCAL-NY, Communities United, Rights and Democracy, SPACES In Action, the Center for Coalfield Justice, Stand Up Alaska, Hoosier Action, and other allies—has been building power around public health investments that keep people safe as they use drugs.

“Yesterday was an important day in our efforts to divest from police and prisons, end the War on Drugs, and invest in this nation’s public health. Let’s build on this moment and take the bold action needed to keep our communities safe.” 


The Center for Popular Democracy Action works to create equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with high-impact base-building organizations, organizing alliances, and progressive unions. We work on campaigns that promote a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda and win victories to improve people’s lives.


Together, we will grow our movement for a multiracial democracy and secure safety, dignity and liberation for all.