WH says it has nothing to announce on decriminalizing marijuana

During the White House briefing on Monday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration was not announcing any change in drug policy. Pennsylvania's Lt. Gov. and Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman urged Biden on Monday to decriminalize marijuana.

Video Transcript

- Finally, senate candidate, lieutenant governor John Fetterman says he is going to be at the parade in Pittsburgh on labor day and, quote, he looks forward to talking to the president there about the need to finally decriminalize marijuana. The president has said in the past we need to rethink our approach. Has he decided how he wants to rethink the approach? Does he agree with John Fetterman?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: So I don't have anything right now to announce. But I just want to talk a little bit or take a step back to talk about our drug policy that we have been very clear about. But I'll lay some stuff here. We're at an urgent moment when it comes to an overdose epidemic. You've heard the president talk about that. More than 100,000 lives lost in the most recent 12-month period.

The bulk of our early efforts have been focused on addressing the addiction and overdose epidemic. That's what we have talked about these past 19 months, which has worsened during the course of the pandemic, sadly.

Untreated addiction and overdose deaths require urgent attention. And having evidence-based policies in place is critical. That is incredibly important to this president. But at the same time, President Biden believes that there are too many people serving unduly long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, a disproportionate number of whom are Black and Brown. That's why in April, during the Second Chance Month, President Biden announced 17 sentence commutations and three pardons, which are more grants of clemency at this point in a presidency than any of his five recent predecessors.

As I have said before, the president supports leaving decisions regarding legalization for recreational use up to the states, rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts, and at the federal level, he supports decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging any prior criminal records. We don't have anything to announce today at this point. But just wanted to lay that out for you.