Overview

Reason and logic are often missing when it comes to laws that have a detrimental effect on the struggle for equality. Biden's pot pardons offer a glimmer of hope.

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As a long time Californian, where marijuana has been legal since 2016, I still have to resist the urge to stuff my purchase down my pants on the way out of a legal dispensary. As silly as that sounds, it’s even sillier when you consider my demographic. As a white lady from the suburbs, I am firmly in the “I demand to speak to your manager” class rather than one likely to get tossed in jail over some weed. Getting caught for possession would be an inconvenience rather than one that would have lifetime consequences.

While my friends and I watched the film Reefer Madness while indulging in the very substance it was demonizing, the intent of the movie was not lost on us. It depicted scenes of violence and insanity, but also unintended hilarity for marijuana users. While we laughed and snorted at the absurdity, the movie’s racist message was clear. Even stoned, it wasn’t hard to put together the reason marijuana ended up classified with such drugs as heroin and LSD.

In the 1930s, Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry Anslinger began what would be a successful fear-based campaign against marijuana. Using films and other media, he falsely claimed that marijuana users would be prone to violence or insanity. Of course, anyone who knows a pothead knows that the only acts of violence they might be in danger of committing would be against an innocent bag of Cheetos.

But Anslinger didn’t even bother hiding his racist intent behind his war on pot, saying “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 enshrined Anslinger’s hateful rhetoric into law. And while it was ruled unconstitutional in 1969, it was replaced by the Controlled Substances Act, which amounted to the same thing. And so we were stuck with this insidiously unreasonable and overtly racist law.

Biden’s pot pardons

On October 6, President Biden announced the widespread pardons of people convicted of simple possession under federal law. Although no one is currently in federal prison for possession, those who have been convicted face employment and housing obstacles. Pot advocates rightly say that there is much more to do to undo the damage that has been done, but it is a small but significant step in the right direction.

My hope is that this action offers a glimmer of hope in politics and legislation on a broader scale. There are a host of absurd laws on the books with thinly-veiled nefarious intentions. Obscenity laws in many southern states make selling sex toys a crime. And of course, it had more to do with controlling a women’s sexuality than the safety of citizens.

In a world gone mad, specifically when it comes to politics and public policy. Biden’s move gives this marijuana connoisseur reason to hope that reason and logic might have a fighting chance to become a bigger influence in lawmaking. What he did shines a bright light on the motivation behind the marijuana laws. He effectively ripped the Band-Aid off the gunshot wound that Anslinger inflicted on American drug laws. Now that it is exposed, we have a chance to heal that wound—and perhaps not allow this abject failure in critical thinking and equality to shape our legislation again.

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I am a former adult entertainer, with a love of books, writing and humor. My job has given me a unique perspective on life. I spent twenty years as a stripper on and off and started writing as a way to...