Despite the fact that he’s openly voiced his support for the decriminalization of marijuana, as well as stated that he doesn’t believe people should be incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses, President Biden has yet to put his money where his mouth is, as it were.
Back in April, President Biden did grant clemency to a total of 75 people who had previously been released from prison on home confinement in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. However, only nine of those individuals had charges related to marijuana.
Now, lawmakers, pardon attorneys, advocates, and even celebrities are calling on Biden to grant a mass clemency for people currently in the US prison system over non-violent marijuana crimes.
Turkeys Over People
Before Biden granted clemency to 75 individuals this past April, the only pardon he’d granted was to a couple of turkeys around Thanksgiving. This ceremonial pardon led one reporter to ask whether the president had planned to pardon any people as well as the turkeys during the holiday season.
Biden gave a non-answer, asking the reporter if they needed a pardon, before walking off. This, of course, left a bad taste in the mouths of many of those advocating for mass clemency in the wake of marijuana legalization across many US states.
Friends, family, and loved ones being locked up for non-violent crimes may be a joking matter to the president, but the rest of us aren’t laughing.
Is Mass Clemency Even Possible?
This is a question that many people are asking themselves, and the short answer is yes, mass clemency is possible.
In fact, should Biden grant mass clemency to those convicted of non-violent, marijuana-related crimes, he wouldn’t even be the first president in US history to do so. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, both President Ford and President Carter granted mass clemency to those who had been imprisoned for draft dodging.
As it stands, the Office of the Pardon Attorney receives and reviews pardon applications on a case-by-case basis. But nothing is stopping President Biden from changing that and granting clemency to everyone currently in prison for marijuana-related charges.
Even current senators and legislators are urging the president to take action. In a letter to the President last December, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), wrote, “To begin rectifying the damage done by these discriminatorily implemented policies and reunite families before the holidays, we reiterate our ask that you use your executive authority to pardon all individuals convicted of nonviolent cannabis offenses, whether formerly or currently incarcerated. We further write to specify that all federal criminal fines and fees be cancelled for all nonviolent cannabis offenses,” reports Marijuana Moment.
Too Little, Too Late?
The fact that the President has yet to even consider granting mass clemency to incarcerated individuals doing time over non-violent marijauna-related offenses is a massive, glaring red flag. It would be so easy for President Biden to change the lives of thousands of people across this country, not to mention the lives of their families, friends, and loved ones, and yet, for some reason, he hasn’t done so.
We have to ask if he truly supports the federal decriminalization of marijauan if he can’t even see the positive effects such a mass clemency would have not only on those incarcerated, but on the lives of every marijuana advocate across this nation.
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