Joe Biden Grants Clemency To Dozens Of Americans Jailed For Cannabis And Other Drug Offenses

A total of 75 people received commuted sentences on Tuesday, a rare gesture of support from the prohibitionist federal government
Written by 
Chris Kudialis, CBD and Cannabis Reporter.
|Last Updated:

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday commuted the jail sentences for 75 Americans convicted of low level and non-violent drug offenses, a handful of which involved cannabis. The move is Biden’s first official clemency act in his 15 months in office, which many activists and lawmakers have been expecting and pressuring the White House to act on for several months.

“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” Biden said in a statement released Tuesday morning. “Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values that enable safer and stronger communities.”

Tuesday’s move falls short of the mass pardons that many advocates and pro-cannabis legislators had hoped for: only nine of the 75 people to have their sentences commuted were convicted of cannabis-related crimes, according to Marijuana Moment. It also falls short of Biden’s campaign promise to automatically expunge prior marijuana convictions. But it’s a step in the right direction.

Cannabis activist Weldon Angelos pointed out to Marijuana Moment that an estimated 2,700 people currently incarcerated in federal prison for marijuana-only offenses have yet to receive the benefits promised by the U.S. President during his 2020 campaign. Angelos was pardoned by former president Donald Trump in 2019 and has since used his freedom to advocate for similar pardons, as well as clemency and sentence commutations, during the Biden administration.

Most of the people to benefit from Tuesday’s rulings had less than four years left on their sentences and had previously qualified for home detention under the Trump-era Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Biden noted that while Tuesday’s clemency offerings marked “important progress” to forgiving low-level and non-violent drug offenses, his administration plans to do more along the same lines in the coming months.

“My administration will continue to review clemency petitions and deliver reforms that advance equity and justice, provide second chances, and enhance the wellbeing and safety of all Americans,” he said.


Chris Kudialis
Chris Kudialis
CBD and Cannabis Reporter
Chris Kudialis is the mainstream media’s authority on marijuana and CBD news coverage in Las Vegas. Chris began covering the beat as a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2015, when cannabis had been medical-only for almost two years and the first dispensaries were just opening.

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