Making light of a heavy issue

Making light of a heavy issue

Making light of a heavy issue

A volunteer dedicated to educating the public on the harms of marijuana says the president's plan to pardon those charged for possessing pot is merely symbolic but still dangerous.

President Biden announced last week that he is giving blanket pardons to thousands of Americans convicted of "simple possession" of marijuana under federal law, as opposed to possession with intent to distribute or possession added to other criminal charges.

The president expects to issue about 6,500 pardons, which, according to Scott Chipman of Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana (AALM), might surprise some people.

"Only 6500? The pot industry has told us for years, decades, that hundreds of thousands of people are being arrested every year for marijuana crimes and that our jails are just filled with people who got put in jail for just having a joint," he relays.

He says the fact is almost no one has ever been charged with simple possession.

"Most, if not nearly all, of these individuals have pled down from much more serious charges," he tells AFN. "By the way, none of these people are getting out of prison or jail, because they're not in; these are just expunging records."

Biden, in a statement, said the move reflects his position that "no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana." And though the president's actions may merely be symbolic, the AALM spokesman says the blanket pardon sends a dangerous message – that a little pot is no big deal.

"This drug is 10-40 times stronger than it was in the '60s and '70s," Chipman asserts. "The number-one drug associated with a child's death is marijuana."

The children are dying from abuse – as the drug causes psychotic violence – or neglect – when they wander, unsupervised, into a pool or a drug cabinet. Psychosis and/or schizophrenia are also effects of marijuana, and he concludes that "the addiction issue itself is a problem."