Dear President Biden,
I am your constituent. I voted for you: once in 2020, and twice when you were VP for President Obama. And I want to personally say thank you for debt forgiveness on student loans. It makes a real difference in quality of life for me and for my loved ones. I appreciate you keeping your campaign promise.
Now, I am asking you: please keep your other campaign promise of freeing America’s cannabis prisoners and decriminalizing weed.
Make it a priority. There are so many benefits to this platform. That’s why you ran on it. Cannabis decriminalization is unbelievably popular and bipartisan. There’s nothing America agrees on more than weed. 68% of citizens believe weed should be legal, a record high according to the latest Gallup poll. A whopping 80% of Democrats in America want cannabis to be legal.
That’s your party. That is a lot of people. It would drastically help Democrats in the midterms and it would help you get re-elected in 2024. Young Americans, once your best demographic in 2020, have seen the largest drop in your approval ratings among any age group. You need their vote.
Another recent study found that 57% of all adults want people with past convictions to be cleared for nonviolent marijuana charges. You could immediately release all American citizens who are wrongly imprisoned for a plant. You know, like you’ve asked Russia to do for Brittney Griner. That one single policy move could free up half of the drug charges in the U.S.
This is an urgent matter, Mr. President. To the 40,000 people sitting in jail and prison for this plant, this issue determines their entire life. Your citizens are suffering in private prison systems over a plant that is legal in 19 states. The hypocrisy. Every day that goes by, 40,000 Americans must put their lives, dreams, futures, and families’ futures on hold because of the failed War on Drugs. This is a grave injustice. We need immediate action for these Americans who have been hit hardest by some of your earlier policies. I know you can change your mind. You have before.
America has the largest amount of our own citizens in prison than any country on earth—2.1 million. They lose on average 2.6 years of their lives. ACLU data found that states waste a cumulative $3 billion enforcing cannabis laws every year. Black Americans are 3.7x more likely to be arrested for cannabis, the ACLU documented in its data report from 2020 called A Tale Of Two Americas. I’m sad to say these numbers have not improved since you took office. Federal cannabis arrests have actually increased 25% under your admin’s watch.
Please, I beg of you, no more.
All of this incarceration happens simultaneously as states collect billions of tax dollars from the blossoming industry.
Legalizing cannabis will help pull the country out of the looming recession. Economists estimate the legal cannabis industry would create 1 million jobs in America. States in your union have already collected $10 billion in taxes from legal weed, and $3.7 billion in 2021 alone. In cash. Without federal decriminalization, the legal cannabis businesses are relegated to operating in cash, putting them at risk and forcing them into the shadows.
Every state that legalizes cannabis benefits greatly from it. California made $1.2 billion in tax money from the legal weed industry in 2021. Egregiously high taxes (like in California’s market) are not necessary to see an economic lift: somewhat reasonably taxed markets like Colorado made over $400 million and Washington made well over $500 million in 2021.
It’s not too late. The steps are easy and have been laid out for you in detail in this report by the Congressional Research Service. You could free all cannabis prisoners with a single signature by utilizing your Executive Action. You could clear up the muddy, regulatory, cash-only waters of the state-by-state market by enacting Federal decriminalization or helping advance the MORE Act. You could offer an entire generation of passionate, innovative business owners access to the same American Dream you have found.
You could begin to repair the damages done by the War on Drugs. You could pull America out of a recession. You could single-handedly help reduce the opioid epidemic in the U.S. You could change the lives of your constituents for the better.
It’s ironic. After all these years of criminalizing it, weed is going to save you.
Thank you for listening, Mr. President.