US Congress Urges Biden to Pardon All Those Convicted for Nonviolent Marijuana Offences

A group of reps sent a letter to the president, urging him to grant a blanket pardon as the holiday season approaches
09 December 2021
1 min read
US Congress Urges Biden to Pardon All Those Convicted for Nonviolent Marijuana Offences

In a letter to Joe Biden, representatives Jamaal Bowman, Earl Blumenauer, and Barbara Lee reminded that the president has the unilateral power to pardon federal convicts, whether currently incarcerated or not. Earlier this year, nearly 40 congressmen asked the president to issue a mass pardon for people convicted on nonviolent marijuana-related charges. A similar request was also made by members of the Senate last month.

American lawmakers point to the ongoing progress of the initiative that seeks to legalize cannabis on the federal level, as well as pardon past offenders and expunge their criminal records. The legislators call on the president to step in and use his executive authority to release nonviolent offenders without waiting for the federal legalization bill to pass.

Thousands Imprisoned for Cannabis

The question of how many Americans are in prison for marijuana-related offenses is difficult to answer. One reason is that there are separate statistics of prison populations on the state and federal levels. Another one is the fact that many people are convicted of several charges and some of those are not for drugs.

Nevertheless, pro-cannabis campaigners have argued that as many as 40,000 imprisoned Americans have been convicted solely for cannabis. It’s even harder to estimate how many of those fall into the category of nonviolent offenders.

US Congress Urges Biden to Pardon All Those Convicted for Nonviolent Marijuana Offences: Handcuffs and some loose marijuana buds on a white background

The war on drugs is the reason the US has the world's largest prison population.

A Pipeline of Poverty

A staggering 350,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana in 2020, and the overwhelming majority of those cases were for simple possession. The critics of the current judicial system argue that the police and the courts have created a vicious cycle where people from impoverished communities get further ruined, financially, with legal fees and criminal fines.

The authors of the letter stressed the racial biases of the war on drugs. In 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union reported that Black Americans were 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than Whites despite the same prevalence of cannabis use. To right these wrongs, the lawmakers propose that the president should cancel all federal fines and fees for cannabis offenses.


09 December 2021