Biden Touts Fulfilled ‘Promise’ On Marijuana And Calls For Expungements At MLK Day Event

Biden Touts Fulfilled ‘Promise’ On Marijuana And Calls For Expungements At MLK Day Event
MJ moment

President Joe Biden on Monday said that marijuana reform is part of his commitment to “equal justice,” arguing that people should be released from prison and have their records cleared for simple possession. Speaking at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day hosted by the National Action Network’s (NAN), the president said he was keeping his “promise” by providing relief to those who’ve been criminalized over cannabis. “No one—I’ll say it again—no one should be in federal prison for the mere possession of marijuana. No one,” he said.

“In addition to that, they should be released from prison and completely pardoned and their entire record expunged so that if they have to ask, ‘Have you ever been [convicted], you can honestly say, ‘No,’” he added. Biden didn’t go into detail about the mass pardon he issued in October, granting clemency to several thousand people who’ve committed federal marijuana possession offenses. But he’s repeatedly described the action as an example of a campaign promise that he’s fulfilled. It’s notable that he also talked about expungement and releasing people who are currently incarcerated over cannabis. The pardons that he provided don’t technically expunge those records, as that falls beyond his executive authority—but he’s encouraged governors to follow his lead by granting relief at the state level where their authority may be different and where the bulk of cannabis cases have been prosecuted. In terms of releasing currently incarcerated people, that’s something that advocates have strongly pushed for given that there are still thousands behind bars over federal cannabis offenses. But Biden has made clear that he’s only willing to extend relief to those with simple possession convictions and not those who’ve sold cannabis, for example. The U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) recently released a report that showed record-low federal marijuana prosecutions during…

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