President Biden Pardons Federal Marijuana Offensives

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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32 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    It is a big freakin deal.Report

  2. Greg In Ak
    Ignored
    says:

    Long overdue but good for Dank Biden. Though having to listen to decades old Reefer Madness claptrap from R’s will be tiring. Of course i could get massively stoned to read those.Report

  3. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Okay. How many people are currently in prison for simple possession?

    I am assuming that if someone is in prison for punching a Domino’s driver for forgetting garlic knots and simple possession that the stuff involving Domino’s still stands (even if the possession is now pardoned).

    This strikes me as a very important necessary first step on the way to the very important sufficient step… but I’m also wondering how much it accomplishes given my suspicion that there aren’t a whole lot of simple possession bust people still sitting in federal cells in 2022.

    Do we have numbers for this?Report

    • Greg In Ak in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Fed simple possession arrests are not that common. A few thousand i think. Fed cases are usually big deals and not aimed at Chet smoking a bowl by the Grand Canyon. I’m hoping D govs will jump on this in states where they can. Not expecting it, but hopeful. The rescheduling is the bigger deal and for more people but is getting less attention which is exactly how things work sadly.Report

    • Bevedog in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      “A senior administration official said that over 6,500 U.S. citizens from 1992 — 2021 were convicted of simple possession of marijuana under federal law, and thousands more were convicted under a Washington, D.C. code. There are currently no individuals in federal prison solely for simple possession of marijuana and most marijuana possession convictions occur at the state level, the official said.”

      “In a call with reporters, a senior administration official said that thousands of people with prior convictions for marijuana possession are denied housing, employment or educational opportunities as a result. “This pardon will help relieve those collateral consequences,” they said.”

      Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/biden-pardon-prior-federal-offenses-simple-marijuana-possession-rcna51088Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Bevedog
        Ignored
        says:

        I forgot about how this impacts DC!

        Yes. This is absolutely *HUGE* for DC.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          According to this dashboard, only one of the 309 people in federal prison for simple possession of any drug was sentenced in DC. Back in 2015, there were 2. Apparently simple possession of any drug has been de facto decriminalized in DC for a while now.

          I’m not sure how they decide how to classify prisoners convicted of multiple crimes. It’s possible that drug possession just acts as a sentence enhancer for other crimes.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      The administration’s estimate is that this affects 6,500. That includes people who will have the convictions removed from their records but are not currently in prison (at least not for those charges). As for how many are actually in prison on simple marijuana possession charges right now? Not sure. I would think almost certainly fewer than a thousand, maybe fewer than a hundred.

      Just looked it up, and this story claims fewer than 150.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Brandon Berg
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, something that helps 150 people is something that helps 150 people.

        But this low-hanging fruit has been getting heavier to the point that it was bending the branch. I’m glad that *SOMEBODY* finally said “maybe we could grab it?”Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          It still helps the other 6,000+ people, but by removing convictions from their records, rather than by releasing them from prison.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Brandon Berg
            Ignored
            says:

            Here’s Reason’s take:

            Personally, I think that this is, as first steps go, a great first step.

            If it is a first step without a second step, then it kind of sucks. Not that this particular move sucks… it doesn’t. It’s just that the second step and third step and fourth step are important.

            It kind of reminds me of the debt forgiveness.

            This helps a small number of people RIGHT FREAKING NOW.

            It doesn’t help people tomorrow. The system that existed yesterday still exists today and, after this change goes through the system, we can start adding up numbers again because the system itself didn’t change.

            But I also know that we’re never going to get a second step without having a first step and we’re not going to get a third step without a second.

            This is a great first step! Hurray!

            Now let’s do the second step.Report

            • Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              In theory, decriminalization of personal possession without legalizing sales could make things worse. When sales are illegal, the supply is controlled by (often) violent criminals. Increasing demand by telling people that they can buy and use drugs with no worry of legal repercussions increases demand, which drives up prices and encourages more people to get into the illegal drug trade, potentially worsening the associated violent crime.

              Does it actually work out that way in practice? I’m not sure.

              Meanwhile, those innocent drug users are, in fact, funding and encouraging the horribly destructive drug trade. It’s not their fault that no legitimate suppliers exist, but if they all stopped using drugs, that would probably result in a lot fewer people being killed by Latin American cartels and US gangs.

              It’s actually kind of puzzling that we virtually never see calls to boycott illegal drugs. Yes, people advocate abstention on the grounds that drugs are bad for you, but despite drug cartels and gangs being objectively much worse than the vast majority of legitimate corporations and industries that are frequent targets of boycotts, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone call for a drug boycott. Apparently every once in a while, somebody in the UK will call for a cocaine boycott, but that seems to be it.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      And there’s a brilliant thread here that gives a pretty plausible explanation for why it took so long to get here:

      The general gist of the thread is that “the odor of marijuana” gives the cops a way to avoid messy 4th Amendment issues. Hey, guy had glassy eyes and I detected the distinct odor of marijuana. If that goes away, cops have less reason to be able to search a car, an apartment, or explain why, sure, they broke down the wrong door, but they found a quarter bag. (And lest you think I exaggerate: cops announced finding 10.4 grams of weed in Botham Jean’s apartment. That’s about a third of an ounce.)Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      A quarter or so of states leave billions of dollars per year that could provide health care for their poorest citizens on the table. A similar number of states will leave potential marijuana tax revenue on the table.Report

  4. Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    It is worth noting the other portion of the presidents statement where he directs the HHS Secretary and DoJ to start looking at decriminalizing it.Report

  5. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    The Vice President is on board!

    Report

  6. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Colorado Springs has an upcoming pair of issues on the ballot.

    Issue 300 would legalize retail/recreational marijuana to be sold in Colorado Springs and repeal the prohibition on retail/recreational marijuana from being sold in Colorado Springs
    Issue 301 would institute a 5% tax on the newly legalized retail/recreational marijuana

    If you want to buy Recreational in Colorado Springs, you’re stuck driving to Manitou Springs (though I have a friend whose sister insists on driving down to Pueblo when she runs out… doesn’t want to be seen, I guess).

    The pro folks point out all of the revenue that Colorado Springs is losing by making people drive out to Manitou or Pueblo (and also arguing stuff like “we’re sick of driving out to Manitou!” (not a big deal for people who live downtown, a bigger deal for people who live out off of Powers)).

    The anti folks are pointing out that this will increase the homeless problem and also “raise taxes”. (The taxes raised, mind, will be on recreational marijuana.)

    The mayor and most of the city council is against 300/301.
    I can’t find any polling info.Report

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