National News: Biden pardons all federal convictions of simple marijuana possession, OPEC+ announces oil production cut threatening gas prices and Hurricane Ian becomes Florida’s deadliest storm since 1935

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President Joe Biden walks to the Oval Office after arriving on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022, in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP Photo.

Biden pardons all federal convictions of simple marijuana possession in first major step towards federal marijuana decriminalization  

President Biden pardoned all federal convictions of simple marijuana possession last Thursday, according to CNN.  

“As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden announced on Twitter. “First: I’m pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession. There are thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My pardon will remove this burden.” 

Biden also ordered Secretary Becerra and Attorney General Garland to look at the way marijuana is legally classified.  

“We classify marijuana at the same level as heroin — and more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense. I’m asking @SecBecerra and the Attorney General to initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law,” Biden wrote. 

Biden ended his announcement by adding that he believes governors should pardon all convictions of state simple marijuana possession, according to the NYT

“I’m calling on governors to pardon simple state marijuana possession offenses. Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely for possessing marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” Biden added. 

While these actions stop short of full federal marijuana decriminalization, they are the first major steps toward federal marijuana decriminalization. While Biden does not support federal marijuana legalization, he did campaign on federally decriminalizing marijuana. 

“No one should be in jail because of marijuana. As president, I will decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions,” Biden said when running for president in 2020. 

OPEC+ announces biggest cut in oil production since March 2020, threatening higher gas prices 

OPEC announces a cut in oil production. Photo by Erik Mclean/Pexels.

OPEC+ announced last Wednesday that it is cutting oil production by 2 million barrels per day according to CNN Business. This move threatens to increase gas prices with election day a little less than a month away. 

The White House is still formulating a response to this oil production cut as many Democrats worry an increase in the gas prices this close to election day will cost them at the polls, according to Politico

“There are a lot of alternatives and we haven’t made up our minds yet,” Biden said to reporters last Thursday.  

Senate Democrats also issued a statement last week regarding the OPEC+ oil cut. 

“We are looking at all the legislative tools to best deal with this appalling and deeply cynical action,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a formal statement.  

Potential solutions to the OPEC+ oil production cut range from easing sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, opening up strategic fuel reserve(s), producing more fuel at home, pulling military support in Saudi Arabia and more according to Politico.  

Senate Democrats have also been re-considering voting on the NOPEC bill which passed with bipartisan support in the Senate Judiciary Committee last May. The bill allows the Justice Department to sue nations that restrict the trading of oil, natural gas or any petroleum product. 

“This May, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the NOPEC Act by a bipartisan vote of 17-4.  Given OPEC+’s decision to dramatically reduce oil production, it is time for the Senate to pass this important legislation in the lame duck session,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said in a statement last Thursday. 

Hurricane Ian becomes Florida’s deadliest storm since 1935 as residents begin to return home 

In this photo shot with a drone, shrimp boats lie grounded atop what was a mobile home park, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. Rebecca Blackwell/AP Photo.

Hurricane Ian has become Florida’s deadliest storm since 1935 as the death toll rises above 130, according to NBC News

Governor DeSantis announced Saturday that even though more work has to be done to recover, residents from the hardest hit areas can begin to return home.  

“As of 7 a.m. this morning, the first group of residents did return to the island. More will be coming throughout the day. This is their home, and we want to make sure that they’re here … The hardest stuff is still ahead,” DeSantis said at a press conference Saturday.  

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also announced $150 million in grants for households hit hard by Hurricane Ian on Saturday. This comes after President Biden signed a federal emergency declaration late last week per the request of Governor DeSantis. 

“Ten days after the major disaster declaration for Hurricane Ian in Florida, FEMA has approved $150 million in grants to 101,705 households to help them recover. Disaster assistance may include financial help with temporary lodging, home repairs and other disaster-related expenses. FEMA grants include $72 million for housing assistance and $78 million for other expenses,” FEMA announced on Saturday. 

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