Yesterday was 4/20, a day that drug users associate with marijuana, so Psaki ended up speaking about marijuana use and Slow Joe’s stance on it during her 4/20 press conference.
Her comment on the subject came after a journalist in the White House press pool asked about Biden’s stance on the war on drugs and imprisoning Americans for drug offenses, asking:
“Thanks, Jen. I have a question about marijuana policy. President Biden, as a candidate, promised to decriminalize marijuana. When is that going to happen?”
Psaki, responding to the question in something other than her usual, roundabout way,and instead actually giving an answer on what Biden and the White House are doing as regards marijuana policy said (emphasis ours):
Well, the President continues to believe that no one should be in jail because of drug use. I don’t have an update here. We are continuing to work with Congress.
But what I can say on marijuana is we’ve made some progress on our promises. For instance, the DEA just issued its first licenses to companies to cultivate marijuana for research purposes after years of delay during the prior administration. This is a key step in promoting research because it broadens the amount and quality of cannabis available for research purposes.
Additionally, the President is continuing to view his cleme- — review his clemency powers, which is something he also talked about on the campaign, and he certainly remains committed to taking action on.
The journalist, however, wanted more and followed up with a second question on the issue, particularly a campaign promise to deal with past marijuana convictions, asking:
So he remains committed to what he said during the campaign, that people charged with marijuana-related offenses — number one, everybody gets out, record expunged?
Psaki didn’t give as substantive of a response this time and went back to giving her usual partial answer, saying:
Well, again, he’s reviewing his clemency powers. That’s exactly what that looks like. I don’t have any updates or previews beyond that, though.
“Reviewing his clemency powers” could mean a lot, varying from figuring out how to pardon all those convicted of the offense to realizing it might prove unpopular with non-drug users and doing nothing. Psaki’s vagueness makes it seem like something approaching the later is more likely, as surely the Democrats would cheer such a massive change to federal drug policy and would want to hype it up.
As a note, Biden did, as a candidate, promise to decriminalize marijuana and expunge the convictions of those convicted of marijuana-related offenses. He most famously did so in a tweet that expressed his election platform, saying:
There is a lot of talk out there on where I stand when it comes to our marijuana laws. Here are the facts:
Where I stand on Marijuana Laws
- No one should be in jail for marijuana use
- Decriminalize recreational marijuana use and automatically expunge prior convictions
- Legalize medical marijuana
- Allow states to legalize recreational marijuana
- Reschedule marijuana so researchers can study its health impacts.