KIRO NIGHTS

Spike: ‘A good day in America’ after cannabis charges dropped

Oct 7, 2022, 2:19 PM | Updated: 3:04 pm
cannabis...
A marijuana activist holds a flag during a march on Independence Day on July 4, 2021 in Washington, DC. Members of the group Fourth of July Hemp Coalition gathered outside the White House for its annual protest on marijuana prohibition which the group said it dated back to more than 50 years ago during Nixon Administration. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Biden announced Thursday that he would begin steps to pardon all federal convictions of “simple possession” of cannabis, which he says will help make it easier for thousands to apply for jobs or rent apartments.

The move is a significant step to decriminalize cannabis on the federal level, with 19 states already legalizing recreational cannabis use.

Biden is also calling on state governors to follow his lead to help expunge state charges for cannabis possession.

Spike O’Neill, host of KIRO Nights, said the move is a big victory for those who recreationally smoke cannabis.

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“We’re not talking about dealers. We’re not talking about people selling pot to an underage kid. We are talking about the people who just got caught with some weed and got convicted in federal court,” Spike said. “You know, a lot of people can’t stand alcohol. We don’t make alcohol illegal. We don’t punish everybody because some people can’t handle it.”

The move is also a win for social justice advocates. In his announcement, Biden said that while white people and people of color use marijuana at similar rates, minorities have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted disproportionately.

Spike pointed out that during the ‘War on Drugs,’ a campaign led by the federal government to reduce the illegal drug trade in the U.S. in the latter half of the 20th century, cannabis was placed on the Schedule 1 drug list, alongside drugs like heroin and LSD.

“It’s ridiculous. You know, the number of marijuana overdoses this year again, I think it was zero,” Spike said. “Much like last year when it was zero. All I’m saying is that we have misclassified marijuana for over 50 years as a Schedule 1 drug when it does not hold the same dangerous properties as another Schedule 1 drug. And I think that’s what we’re looking to correct.”

As for why cannabis was made a Schedule 1 drug, Spike points to a combination of a failure of racial bias in the legal system, as well as lobbying from the pharmaceutical industry.

“The reason marijuana is a class one drug and the reason that it’s been illegal and so onerous in our criminal justice system is, in large part, due to the pharmaceutical industry knowing that it was competition they didn’t want to take on,” Spike said.

When the topic turned to how the announcement would affect the incoming midterm elections and the eventual 2024 presidential election, Spike said it might help bolster Democratic voter turnout, with cannabis decriminalization being a big part of the Biden campaign platform. He also said that it might give Republicans just the ammunition they need, especially with recent rises in crime rates and the epidemic of fentanyl overdoses.

“I mean, everything that happens these days is spun to be political,” Spike said. “This will motivate the right because now ‘Biden’s decriminalizing a dangerous drug,’ is how this will be spun. That Biden is making the drug problem in America worse.”

You can listen to the full segment on KIRO Nights here:

Listen to KIRO Nights weeknights from 7 – 10 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Spike: ‘A good day in America’ after cannabis charges dropped