Democrats Want Biden to Decriminalize Weed. It’s an Idea Michiganders Overwhelmingly Support.


By Keya Vakil

August 31, 2022

Decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana is overwhelmingly popular with Michiganders of all political affiliations—with 72% of voters in the state support legal weed, according to Civiqs polls.

MICHIGAN—Most Michiganders want legal weed, and so do seven in 10 Americans.

It’s about as popular of an idea that can exist in modern politics—with majorities of virtually every demographic supporting legalization. Now, one Senate candidate is making a renewed push for President Joe Biden to decriminalize marijuana, which would mark a major first step towards legalization. 

Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, the state’s Democratic nominee for Senate, called on Biden this week to use his executive power to remove weed from the list of federally controlled substances.

“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.”

Several other Democrats have also pushed Biden to decriminalize marijuana in recent months.

Under a 1970 law, marijuana—which is exponentially safer than alcohol and has never led to an overdose—is illegal on the national level and categorized as a “Schedule I” drug. That’s the same grouping as heroin. In fact, under federal drug policy, cannabis is considered more dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamine, which were linked to the deaths of more than 57,000 Americans last year alone.

The federal government’s criminalization of cannabis as part of the failed “War on Drugs” has also disproportionately devastated Black people, who are incarcerated for drug crimes at a rate 10 times greater than white people, even though they use drugs at roughly the same rates. 

Rather than combat drug overdoses and save lives, the government’s war on drugs has instead devastated millions of American families while leading to a 500% increase in America’s prison population since 1970. There are now more than 2 million Americans in jail and prison—the highest rate of incarceration in the world—and overdose rates have actually grown exponentially since 1970.

Marijuana is fully legal in Michigan, 18 other states, and Washington D.C., and legal for medicinal use in 18 additional states. But cannabis technically remains illegal at the national level, which has created headaches for states and cannabis dispensaries and has allowed federal prosecution of cannabis offenders to continue. And polling shows most Michiganders are on board with federal legalization too.

About 72% of the voters in the state support fully legalizing cannabis, according to a Civiqs poll.

Biden, who had campaigned on a promise to decriminalize marijuana, has not yet taken significant action on the issue. In comments made last month, Biden said he plans to follow through on a pledge to release people who were imprisoned over non-violent federal marijuana offenses. He also added that he does not believe Americans should be locked up for using cannabis and that he was working on a “crime bill,” though it’s unclear what legislation he was referring to.

House Democrats passed a bill earlier this year to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge cannabis-related criminal records. Only three House Republicans voted for the bill, which has not yet received a vote in the Senate, where it is likely to be blocked by Senate Republicans.


  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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