No prisoners walk free following Biden’s pardon
Following President Joe Biden’s shocking Twitter announcement last week that his administration has reversed course on federal marijuana law and is now looking into what can be done to make cannabis laws make more sense, activists are beginning to realize that Biden’s pardons didn’t quite have the impact the administration was hoping it would.
According to reports, there are not actually that many people imprisoned for federal marijuana possession charges. As President, Biden only has the authority to pardon federal offenders, and the federal government has reeled back on charging people with possession over the past ten years.
In fact, in 2012, there were nearly 7,000 people federally convicted of drug trafficking and other serious marijuana-related crimes. Last year, the number of people falling into this category was slightly over 1,000.
Marijuana went from being the most federally convicted substance to the least in just 10 years. In 2008, over 800,000 cannabis-related arrests were made, but the majority of the people convicted went through their state’s judicial system – not the federal government.
In reality, Biden’s pardon only really helps about 6,500 people who have already served their time or paid their dues. However, the pardons do help those whose convictions prevent them from employment, decent housing, receiving student loans, or other opportunities reserved to those with a clean criminal record.
The second part of Biden’s pardoning plan is to encourage state governor’s to follow suit. As previously mentioned, Biden lacks the authority to pardon those prosecuted at the state level, and is calling on governors across the country to follow his lead and pardon the thousands of people who remained locked up on simple marijuana possession charges.
Currently, there are 28 states with Republican governors and 22 states led by Democrats. While some blue states have already pardoned those charged with simple possession, many red states have not and likely will not under the guidance of Biden. If all 50 governors in the United State did decide to follow suit, hundreds of thousands of people would be given a second chance – compared to the 6,500 who benefited from Biden’s pardon.