Aug 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Fetterman calls on Biden to decriminalize marijuana

John Fetterman, Democrat nominee  for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, attends the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on April 18, 2022 in Washington, DC.
John Fetterman, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, attends the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on April 18, 2022. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor and Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate John Fetterman is calling on President Biden to deschedule marijuana before his scheduled visit to Pennsylvania next week.

Why it matters: Biden is slated to visit Pittsburgh on Labor Day, and the Fetterman campaign says the Democratic nominee will speak with Biden about decriminalizing cannabis even though he won't appear at another event in northeastern Pennsylvania with Biden on Tuesday.

What we're watching: “It’s long past time that we finally decriminalize marijuana,” Fetterman said in a statement.

  • “The president needs to use his executive authority to begin descheduling marijuana, I would love to see him do this prior to his visit to Pittsburgh. This is just common sense and Pennslyvanians overwhelmingly support decriminalizing marijuana."
  • As Lieutenant Governor, Fetterman in 2019 traveled around Pennsylvania on a marijuana listening tour, and released a report concluding that a substantial majority of Pennsylvania residents favored legalization.

What they're saying: “The president supports leaving decisions regarding legalization for recreational use up to the states, rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule 2 drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday.

  • “At the federal level, he supports decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging any prior criminal records,” she added.

Biden told reporters in June that he was preparing plans to free people incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes, saying he doesn't believe “anyone should be in prison for the use of marijuana.”

  • In April, Biden granted clemency to over 70 people convicted of cannabis-related crimes though the White House has not taken any significant action to reschedule or reform cannabis regulation.

The big picture: Biden previously opposed legalization before moving away from that position when he became the Democratic nominee for president in 2020.

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