Washington, DC: President Joe Biden utilized his clemency powers for the first time today. This morning, the White House announced the pardoning or commutation of sentencing for 78 individuals, most of whom had been on supervised release during the COVID pandemic. Of those 78 individuals, nine had federal charges related to marijuana.
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri responded: “Branding thousands of our citizens as lifelong criminals because of a marijuana-related offense serves no legitimate societal purpose. While granting clemency to nine individuals for federal marijuana offenses is the right thing to do, it is woefully inadequate when there remain over 10,000 individuals who still suffer under the weight of a federal charge on their criminal record.”
Altieri added, “It is well past the time for President Biden to make good on his campaign promise to expunge the records of all federal marijuana offenders and prove that justice isn’t just a buzzword he uses to gain votes during election season.”
During the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden stated that “no one should be in jail because of cannabis use” and pledged that as President, he would “decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions.” According to recent polling compiled by YouGov.com, nearly 60 percent of Americans doubt the President intends to make any effort to advance marijuana-specific issues in 2022.
Separate polling data provided by YouGov in December finds that 70 percent of US adults support expunging marijuana-related convictions for non-violent offenders.
NORML advocates for changes in public policy so that the responsible possession and use of marijuana by adults is no longer subject to criminal penalties. NORML further advocates for a regulated commercial cannabis market so that activities involving the for-profit production and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products are safe, transparent, consumer-friendly, and are subject to state and/or local licensure. Finally, NORML advocates for additional changes in legal and regulatory policies so that those who use marijuana responsibly no longer face either social stigma or workplace discrimination, and so that those with past criminal records for marijuana-related violations have the opportunity to have their records automatically expunged.
Source: NORML press release