Mike Tyson Calls Out Joe Biden

Source: Shutterstock / Flickr/Phil Murphy

Mike Tyson is one of the greatest heavyweight boxing champions of all time. He’s gone up against significant opponents in his time in the ring, and even people who don’t follow boxing have a general idea of who the man is and what he stands for. He’s recently stepped out of the boxing ring and into the political arena, though, calling out an unlikely opponent for a rather surprising reason.

“The War on Marijuana Is Over”

This past week, Tyson made a significant statement regarding an issue that is near and dear to many Americans: federal marijuana legislation, and the criminal charges that can come along with it. In a letter that he released, Tyson went so far to say that the “war on marijana is over.”

Source: Wikimedia/Eva Rinaldi

Marijuana is a controversial topic for many individuals. As Tyson rightly pointed out, the plant has been long connected with the war on drugs that has been raging for decades in the United States, with many people misplacing a lot of blame for drug addiction on marijuana.

A Brief History of Marijuana

Criminalization of marijuana is a fairly recent event, in the timeline of the United States. Up until the early 20th century, there were no laws regarding the legal status of marijuana, and the banning of the plant began with state-level regulations that were scattered and inconsistent across the country.

Source: Wikimedia/Retinafunk

Federal regulation around marijuana didn’t come until 1937, when the Marijuana Tax Act was implemented. Federal laws essentially banned the use of the plant, though it could still be prescribed for medical purposes. The regulations and new taxes around its use made this challenging, though, and use of marijuana dropped off.

The Controlled Substances Act

These regulations lasted until 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act was passed by Congress. The new act classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning that the Food and Drug administration had determined that there was the “high potential for abuse” with the use of the drug and that there should be no medical exceptions to the rule.

Source: Wikimedia/The U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The penalties imposed on marijuana by its classification as a Schedule I drug were steep, and led to a great deal of controversy across the country. Possession and use of marijuana was immediately classified as a federal crime on par with using cocaine or heroin, and many people didn’t understand exactly why. It’s a plant, after all.

Deep Cultural Divides Over Marijuana

This confusion and – in some cases – resentment towards the government for classifying marijuana as a Schedule I drug led to a deep divide between individuals who were pro-decriminalization of marijuana, and those who weren’t. As the years and decades went on, this became even more clear.

Source: Wikimedia/Cannabis Culture

The crux of the matter has come to a head even more in recent years, though, with the rise of social media and the gradual decriminalization of marijana in various states across the country. California and Colorado became the first states to legalize the plant entirely in 2012, for both medical and recreational purposes.

A Pattern Emerges

With changing laws has come a greater understanding of exactly how the Controlled Substances Act and its classification of marijuana has affected people’s lives. Thousands of people were arrested for possession of marijuana under the provisions of the CSA, and there is a clear pattern in the type of people who were federally charged with possession.

Source: Wikimedia/Dan Vacek

Recent reports surrounding the number and types of people who have been imprisoned for federal marijuana charges reveal that the vast majority of individuals were male (80%), and either Hispanic (41%) or Black (40%). In this data, a pattern of discrimination emerges, which has led some people to call for the overturning of these convictions.

An Important Political Issue

Tyson is merely the most recent individual to call on politicians to make greater moves regarding the federal marijuana issue. Polls reveal that, while it isn’t a top voting priority for many voters, the conversation surrounding legalization and decriminalization of drugs is an issue that is important to many individuals.

Source: Wikimedia/Steve Lott

This is especially clear when looking at the generational divide. Millennials and Gen Z in particular are strongly in favor of federal decriminalization of marijuana, and leftist individuals have gone even further in stating that they believe that federal marijuana convictions should be overturned.

Calling on Biden to Fulfill His Promise

Tyson’s letter to the Biden White House called for Biden to fulfill a campaign promise that he ran on, where he promised to release offenders who were incarcerated on charges related to marijuana. Many of these individuals have federal crimes attached to their name, meaning that Biden would be well within his power to grant clemency.

Source: Wikimedia/Michael Stokes

“I write in support of granting clemency to marijuana offenders still incarcerated in federal prison, and restoring civil rights to those haunted by a federal marijuana conviction,” Tyson said in his letter. This is in reference to the fact that felony offenders of any kind lose voting rights in states across the country, a practice that many have seen as a violation of the constitutional right to vote.

Patchwork Laws Regarding Marijuana

In his letter, Tyson explained that, while marijuana is not federally legal on a full recreational basis, the issue of state-based legalization has been on several ballots around the country. This patchwork of laws has created some confusion, legally, speaking, but also speaks to voter’s opinions on the issue.

Source: Wikimedia/O’Dea

Tyson, and others who support his stance, believe that the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana in various states across the country has given politicians an opportunity to take a stance. The door has been opened for prior offenders to be released, and for their convictions to be wiped with little political consequence.

Tyson’s Closing Statement

Tyson emphasized this stance in his letter. “Marijuana should not be a crime,” he said. “Americans today reject marijuana prohibition in public opinion polls and through legalization efforts across the nation.”

Source: Wikimedia/Steve Lott

“The U.S. government should no longer use marijuana as a reason to lock people up. The first step is to release the remaining people incarcerated federally under America’s war on marijuana, and to wipe the slate clean for those convicted of federal marijuana offenses.”

Steps Being Federally Taken

Tyson and marijuana activists are not the only ones who have come out to take a stance on federal decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. A bill has even been introduced in the House of Representatives that would fully legalize marijuana on a federal level.

Source: Wikimedia/victorgrigas

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would grant the federal government primary enforcement authority over marijuana laws. Specifically, it would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the CSA, and would eliminate criminal penalties for individuals who possess, manufacture, and distribute marijuana.

The Bill is Stalled

Unfortunately, though the bill was introduced in the House by a Democratic representative out of New York in September of 2023, the bill has yet to make its way through committee. Though the issue of marijuana legalization is deeply popular with Americans, it’s a deeply divisive issue in the halls of Congress.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

Whether the MORE Act or any other federal decriminalization attempts will make their way through Congress is uncertain. Many far-right conservatives are against the legalization of marijuana on principle, regardless of the tax and voting benefits, and in a deeply divided Congress, this would make passing any legislation tricky, at best.

Biden Is, Unfortunately, A Sitting Duck

As far as Biden goes, there’s only so much that the president can unfortunately do. He can advocate for Congress to pass laws regarding decriminalization, but Congress is the branch with the ability to make adjustments to federal law, particularly regarding controlled substances.

Source: Wikimedia/The White House

As nice as it would be if Biden could wave a magic wand and suddenly decriminalize marijuana on a federal level, it’s simply not within his power. Forgiving federal offenses of those charged with marijuana crimes is, though, and it will be interesting to see the choices that the president makes surrounding conviction forgiveness for drug-related crimes as the 2024 election draws near.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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