President Joseph Biden made plenty of promises while on the campaign trail, including his pledge to offer marijuana pardons. One of his more progressive statements, the promise was met with praise from drug reform activists across the country.
Last month, President Biden announced that he was taking steps to pardon everyone who had been federally convicted of simple marijuana possession offenses. The announcement was met with surprise as the Biden administration has been largely silent on cannabis reform despite Biden’s campaign promises.
Biden also instructed governors to issue similar pardons at the state level and stated that he would initiate an administrative review of marijuana’s scheduling at the federal level. This is the system of classification that classifies cannabis at the same level as dangerous drugs like heroin and cocaine. Biden noted that it made no sense that marijuana, which has been found to have a variety of medical applications, is considered to be more dangerous than fentanyl at the federal level.
A group of more than 130 organizations comprised of immigration and civil rights groups is now calling on the president to extend the cannabis possession pardon to every U.S. resident regardless of their immigration status. The group sent a letter to the White House urging the president to do more for people who live in America but aren’t lawful permanent residents or citizens. These individuals were specifically excluded from the pardon and will not have their simple cannabis possession offenses pardoned.
The group, led by the National Immigrant Justice Center and the National Immigration Project, wrote that Biden’s move to offer mass cannabis pardons was a “much-needed” step toward alleviating the harms caused by the decades-long war on drugs. However, they observed that that they were “grimly disappointed” by the president’s exclusion of immigrants as well as the lack of affirmative measures to ensure immigrants are protected from any immigration consequences that could arrive from receiving a cannabis conviction.
The group of more than 130 organizations focus on immigrant rights, human rights and racial justice issues. They stated that excluding immigrants from these cannabis reforms based on where they were born casts a shadow of doubt on the White House’s efforts to address criminal policies that have disproportionately affected Black and Brown communities.
The organizations asked the president to extend the cannabis possession pardons to all immigrants regardless of their immigration status and to ensure that these immigrants are protected from negative immigration outcomes following cannabis convictions.
Marijuana crime pardons are just one of the reforms that activists want to see implemented. Access to mainstream banking is also limited for marijuana companies, which is why solutions such as those provided by REZYFi Inc. are gaining traction within the cannabis industry. However, full access to banking services is the ideal situation for these state-legal businesses.
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