A group of more than 150 celebrities, athletes, politicians, law enforcement professionals and academics signed a letter that was delivered to President Joe Biden on Tuesday, urging him to grant a “full, complete and unconditional pardon” to all people with non-violence. federal marijuana convictions.
It comes as the administration is actively encouraging around 1,000 people who have been temporarily placed in house arrest for federal drug offenses to complete pardon request forms.
The new letter – signed by leading stars like Drake, Killer Mike, Meek Mill, Deion Sanders, Kevin Garnett, Al Harrington and more – says the war on drugs “has crushed many souls and countless futures. , while spreading intolerable levels of mistrust and dysfunction between minority communities and those who have sworn to protect them.
“The harms of incarceration are obvious, but the pains of federal marijuana convictions transcend prison walls, making it harder for someone to get a job, access affordable housing and receive an education, “he continues. “A conviction can forever limit an individual’s constitutional rights and can put the American Dream even further beyond the reach of an entire family.”
He also refers to Biden’s comments on the election campaign supporting decriminalization of cannabis and pledging to strike down marijuana convictions.
“Enough is enough. No one should be locked in federal prison for non-violent marijuana offenses,” said the letter, which was coordinated by civil rights activist Weldon Angelos, who received a presidential pardon. for his own cannabis conviction of then President Donald Trump. “No one should continue to wear the scarlet letter of a federal conviction for past marijuana offenses.”
âRelief from the Federal War on Marijuana would not only be fair, it would also be good policy in advancing public safety and economic prosperity. A general pardon poses a low risk to the American public by wiping out records and freeing the last prisoners from the federal marijuana ban. Those who will have their sentences commuted represent a small percentage of the federal prison population and are incarcerated only for non-violent marijuana offenses. All other beneficiaries of a categorical pardon represent an even lower risk, since these people already live peacefully among their neighbors.
The letter – which was also signed by 2 Chainz, Ty Dolla $ ign and TI – goes on to say that there is precedent for relief, highlighting steps taken by Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in the 1970s to forgive categorically to the Americans who avoided the project. for the Vietnam War.
Rapper Ralo, who is serving an eight-year sentence for a non-violent marijuana offense, is among those who the letter’s signatories say deserves relief. In a press release, Ralo thanked the hip hop community “for supporting my leniency because it’s just not fair that companies are allowed to break federal law and become millionaires when people like I go to jail for years â.
âIt’s hypocrisy,â he said. “But I hope Joe Biden will honor his campaign promise and grant us mercy, without delay, so that we can return home to our families and communities.”
The letter ends by telling Biden that “general leniency will send a clear and powerful message that our country is truly taking a new course in criminal justice policy and practice.”
Other signatories include former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (R / L), former US Representative Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Mark Holden of Koch Industries, the Grace recipient Alice Johnson and state legislators from the Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas legislatures. Former federal prosecutors and other law enforcement professionals also signed.
A coalition of lawyers and lawmakers sent letters with a similar request to Biden at the start of his presidency in February.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a briefing last month that Biden “is exploring several avenues to provide relief to some non-violent drug offenders, including using his clemency power.”
The administration “works hard every day to reform our justice system to strengthen families, boost our economy, give people a chance for a better future,” she said. âWithin this framework, the president is deeply committed to reducing incarceration, helping people to successfully re-enter society. And he said too many people are incarcerated – too many people are black and brown. “
Psaki added at the time that there was nothing actionable to preview at this point, but said the president is “looking at a series of leads” for relief. The fact that as a senator, Biden played a key role in passing punitive drug laws that contributed to the mass incarceration he now plans to address has not emerged in the last few years. ‘exchange.
Biden has been criticized by drug policy reform advocates who have grown frustrated that they have yet to deliver on campaign promises such as the decriminalization of marijuana. While his opposition to legalizing adult use remains a challenge in itself, they believe he should at least take steps to enact modest reform.
The president also campaigned to remove previous cannabis registrations and respect states’ rights to make their own laws.
Since taking office, however, his administration has made no progress on any of those commitments and has instead fired its own White House employees over marijuana and sought to extend a budget provision that has held back Washington, DC to legalize the sales of cannabis.
In April, Psaki insisted on Biden’s pledge of leniency for people with federal marijuana and said the process would begin with a modest rescheduling of cannabis – a proposal that advocates say would not actually accomplish what ‘she suggests.
Moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act, as Biden proposed during the election campaign, would not facilitate mass leniency given that being convicted of Drug crimes in this slightly lower category – which currently includes cocaine – also carry significant penalties.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said in a recent interview that Biden can and should use executive power to end the federal marijuana ban on his own, but the two have “differences.” in drug policy. However, legal questions arise as to whether a president could actually legalize cannabis unilaterally given existing laws.
Read the full letter to Biden below:
Marijuana Leniency Letter to President Biden by Marijuana Moment on Scribd
Detroit voters to decide extent of psychedelics decriminalization ballot in November