On October 6th, 2022, President Biden made a landmark decision to grant presidential pardon to those who had been convicted of minor marijuana offenses between 1992 and 2021. This also comes with the expungement of criminal records to allow those affected to be able to gain meaningful employment and other social amenities without being discriminated against. Two weeks prior to Biden’s announcement, the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom had called on the federal government to initiate cannabis reforms at the federal level. Like an answer to prayer, the president appears to have heeded to Newsom’s plea.
Newsom was attending the closing night ceremony during Oaksterdam University 15th Anniversary Celebrations which happened on 24th September. Oaksterdam was the first college to offer cannabis education in the US. The University’s 15th anniversary celebrations took place at Fox theatre and the governor alongside a number of celebrities was in attendance. The event also coincided with the 20th Oakland International Film Festival (OIFF).
Mr. Newsom’s speech read in part, “Congrats to the entire team at Oaksterdam University on your school’s 15th anniversary. The fight’s not over. We have so much more work to do, not just here in the state, but also at the federal level, to move forward with decriminalization … [and] also look to repair the damage that has been done over decades, generations to people, to families, and communities through this abject failure this thing called ‘the war on drugs.’”
A few days later, President Biden made the announcement that appeared to many as preliminary steps towards decriminalizing cannabis. Was this a sheer coincidence, an answer to prayer, or are the two leaders reading from the same script?