Biden’s pardon on simple marijuana possession brings mixed reactions

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 4:13 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - On Thursday, Oct. 7, President Joe Biden issued a nationwide pardon for anyone who has simple marijuana possession charges on their record.

There are mixed reactions to the pardoning, with some believing the charge should stick and others thinking the pardon will be a great help to many people.

Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Washington says the decision is a step towards nationwide decriminalization and legalization of marijuana.

The pardon expunges all previous federal offences of simple possession of marijuana from offender’s records and starts the process of reexamining marijuana as a schedule 1 drug.

“Whenever you get the national government coming and saying, ‘Hey, we’re pardoning individuals on this and legalizing marijuana in certain areas,” it’s sending a message to all the governors that says it may be time to start considering legalizing marijuana,” said Washington.

A counselor with Council of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration of NWLA says she feels that this may lead to more marijuana use.

“I hear stories all the time about how people started out just smoking weed, and it led to meth and ecstasy, and heroin, and cocaine, and all these other things,” she said.

Peer Recovery Support Specialist with CADA, Jennifer Gerald says the pardon will allow people to have a second chance.

“Unfortunately, whenever people look at somebody’s criminal history and they see drugs, they don’t normally care about what the circumstances were. They just see possession and that’s a felony. The completely overlook, no matter how good of an applicant you may be, they completely overlook you for that.”

Washington says the pardon will easily impact over 10,000 people.

“It affected them personally because they could not get certain jobs, they couldn’t get into certain schools. It affected their families because without a job, and without an education, you can’t support your family, and that’s what starts the families breaking down.”