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Social Workers Urge Biden to Decriminalize Rather Than Just Reclassify Marijuana

Social workers are pushing for President Joe Biden to fully eliminate marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), arguing that there is a need for the drug’s decriminalization. This comes even after the White House proposed that the drug be downgraded to Schedule 3 from Schedule 1.

In a letter penned to Biden, 148 social workers explained that cannabis criminalization had torn apart families, mainly affecting communities of color. They called attention to the fact that their profession allowed them to witness the serious harm that cannabis criminalization had caused, adding that cannabis remaining under the CSA would ensure suffering brought about by prohibition, both collective and individual, would continue to grow.

This, they explained, would mean parents would lose their kids, kids would lose their homes and members of different households would be prevented from accessing public benefits.

In their letter, the social workers cited current law that stipulates individuals convicted of drug offenses could lose benefits afforded to the public such as access to housing and welfare aid. The group of social workers, United for Marijuana Decriminalization, also discussed how the use of cannabis was still a federal crime, even though 88% of Americans are in favor of the drug’s legalization. They also touched on how the current laws implemented at the local and state levels had created different sets of circumstances in various parts of the country, further exacerbating disparities in opportunities and outcomes of different peoples.

This sentiment was echoed by Mel Wilson, senior policy advisor at the National Association of Social Workers, who noted that for many decades, cannabis criminalization had resulted in the arrest and incarceration of millions of Americans, the majority individuals of color.

In their letter, the group delved deeper into how cannabis criminalization disparately affected people of color, discussing the reality of how some communities in legal states could build wealth from legal cannabis sales and benefit from the law while communities of color would be subject to losing their families, jobs, homes and freedom over the same drug.

The group also cited figures showing that almost 80% of kids in the foster care system were removed from their homes because of drug-related causes.

In their request, they urged the president to take executive action to put an end to these harms while still supporting reform measures in Congress. This, the group noted, would help families thrive.

Other groups behind United for Marijuana Decriminalization include the National Cannabis Industry Association, Better Organizing to Win Legalization, Minority Cannabis Business Association, National Association of Black Cannabis Lawyers, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Parabola Center and Drug Policy Alliance.

These increasing calls for major reforms to the federal marijuana policies echo the changes that businesses sch as Verano Holdings Corp. (CSE: VRNO) (OTCQX: VRNOF) have been hoping to see so that the regulations under which they operate can be fairly uniform across the country instead of the current sharp conflicts between federal and state policies.

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