Joe Biden gives a thumbs up to the camera while walking across the white house lawn.

Congrats To This CNN Commentator for Having the Most Unnecessary Take Possible on Biden’s Marijuana Reform Announcement

On Thursday, President Biden made a surprising and momentous announcement: He was issuing a pardon for all federal convictions for simple marijuana possession. This will reportedly affect more than 6,500 people whose prior marijuana convictions are obstacles to things like finding housing and jobs, as well as educational grants and other opportunities.

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Biden encouraged state governors to do the same, as the vast majority of marijuana offenses are at the state level. “Just as no one should be in a Federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” his announcement reads. Biden also said that his administration would be “expeditiously” reviewing how marijuana is classified under federal law and whether it should be labeled a Class 1 drug—defined as a “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”—alongside substances like heroin and ecstasy. (Spoiler: It shouldn’t!)

This is a huge step toward fully legalizing marijuana, and was pretty much the closest Biden could come to doing that without Congress’ approval or assistance. (It also works to rectify some of the massive racial inequities of the criminal justice system that Biden himself helped enshrine with the 1994 “tough on crime” law he sponsored.)

This move is overwhelmingly popular as research shows only about 8% of Americans do not support legalizing marijuana in any way and about 2/3 support legalizing it for both medical and recreational use. So naturally, someone had to come along and start the public hand-wringing.

Fox News had the predictable overreactions ready to go:

But these reactions were not limited to just right-wing media. CNN (which, yes, has begun the transition to right-wing media but as far as I can tell, they don’t openly identify as such yet) decided this would be a great time to bring on commentator Alice Stewart, a former Republican strategist, to weigh in on the issue—a decision that was immediately proven to be totally unnecessary.

“I see this as a ploy in the midterms to gain support and gain voters. I happen to think that marijuana is a gateway drug. I am not a big advocate for legalizing marijuana,” Stewart said before going on make make the laughably obvious statement that many Republican governors aren’t going to get on board with Biden’s suggestion that they follow suit.

Here’s the thing about what Stewart has to say: No one cares! If you’re going to get on television to spout overwhelmingly debunked 1990s-era rhetoric about “gateway drugs” while quickly glossing over marijuana’s many medicinal benefits and completely ignoring the racist ways in which drug laws are enforced, you don’t get to be seen as a serious person.

As for the idea that this is a “ploy” to attract voters, what would she prefer? That Democrats don’t listen their constituents’ needs and desires? That they only undertake policy changes that aren’t too popular, for fear of seeming greedy? What utter nonsense.

(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.