President Biden recently pardoned everyone convicted of simple marijuana possession, but new reporting from Reason says the pardons won’t free a single federal prisoner because none of them are incarcerated. The report also stated while the pardons may help give approximately 10,000 individuals a clean slate, it represents a tiny percentage of the total convictions because most are at the state level.
“I’m keeping my promise that no one should be in jail for merely using or possessing marijuana, none,” the president said during an event on student loans relief. “And the records, which hold up people from being able to get jobs and the like, should be totally expunged. Totally expunged.”
The president added, “You can’t sell it. But if it’s just use, you’re completely free.”
But in a joint letter, 17 drug policy reform groups encouraged President Biden to pardon people convicted of more serious marijuana related crimes. They called on the president to release a minimum of 100 people in federal prison for cannabis charges out of the 2,800. That includes people who were convicted of intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms.
“Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis, yet there are thousands of Americans who are serving long-term prison sentences, including some life sentences, in federal facilities for conduct involving amounts of cannabis that are far less than what dispensaries routinely handle on a daily basis,” the letter stated.
New polling from Monmouth University reveals Americans largely support the president’s actions. More than two thirds of the respondents, 69% said they approve of the pardons, while 23% said they disapprove. There was also strong support, 68% for legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, while 26% opposed. 43% of respondents also said marijuana use isn’t really a problem, while 15% said it’s a very serious problem.
Finally, with the midterms around the corner and crime being a major issue for voters around the country, respondents were asked: Do you think legalizing marijuana would impact other drug crimes? A quarter said it would increase, 16% said it would decrease and 54% said it would have no impact.