DENVER (KDVR) — President Joe Biden said he’s pardoning everyone in the U.S. who has been convicted of simple marijuana possession on the federal level. A pardon could help those who have been denied employment, voting rights, housing and even educational opportunities because of these charges.
According to the Biden administration, no one is currently in federal prison solely for a simple possession charge. Those for and against marijuana decriminalization weighed in on the president’s decision to pardon thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana.
‘A message of criminal justice reform’
“The message that President Biden is sending here is not one that supports legalizing marijuana or commercializing it or having products being sold or promoted,” said Luke Niforatos, executive vice president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “This is a message of criminal justice reform that people should not be disproportionally harmed for simple use or possession.”
Mason Tvert, a partner for VS Strategies, said “the immediate impact of this with the pardons is hugely important, but there’s also this broader impact that it’s going to send this message that it’s time to change our policies at the federal level.”
Biden called the prosecutions a “failed approach to marijuana” and said that it’s time to “right these wrongs.”
“It’s had the greatest impact on communities of low income and of color and it’s really time that we do away with these laws that are having such a disproportionate impact on certain segments of our society,” Tvert said
Biden calls on governors to follow his lead
Biden’s pardons apply only to federal charges. He’s calling on state governors to follow suit.
Here in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis in December granted 1,351 pardons for state-level convictions of possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana. “nobody should be prevented from getting a job, voting etc for decisions they’ve made for simple use of marijuana that’s really not an approach that we think works.” Niforatos said.
Now president Biden is pushing for governors to issues similar pardon for those convicted on state levels. Which numbers wise is the vast majority of possession charges. Those we spoke to who are against legalization say they also hope this pardon pushes for education on potency in marijuana products…