The issuance of formal certificates by the Justice Department to individuals who were pardoned by President Joseph Biden in October 2022 seems to have commenced. While neither the Office of the Pardon Attorney nor the Department of Justice have formally announced the issuance of these certificates, some applicants have received digital copies.
Last week, Kevin B. Gilnack shared an image of his pardon certificate on social media.
These pardon certificates will allow those whose marijuana possession convictions were overturned by the executive order to show that they received clemency. This will help prevent hurdles they may face in obtaining housing, education, employment and custody of children as a result of a federal criminal conviction.
Gilnack, who was arrested in 2006 by federal park police in Washington, D.C., for being in possession of roughly an eighth of an ounce of marijuana, is now a public affairs consultant. Following his arrest, he underwent six months of probation.
On his post, Gilnack revealed that applying for the pardon certificate was a straightforward and seamless process, adding that it was received one week after he’d applied for it. He encouraged eligible individuals who hadn’t applied yet to find out their case docket number as well as the date they were convicted.
Cumulatively, the president’s mass pardon affects about 6,500 individuals who were federally convicted of being in possession of marijuana.
This certificate program was launched by the Department of Justice earlier this year, with the Office of the Pardon Attorney estimating that it would take no more than 2.5 hours per person to present all the information requested on the application.
While this move by the Biden administration was a step in the right direction, some of the individuals affected and advocates have criticized the sluggish rollout of the certificate application. The program was launched almost six months after the mass clemency announcement by the president.
Despite this, some officials seem to be following suit at the state level. As of December 2022, almost two million cannabis convictions had been expunged or pardoned countrywide. In Oregon, for example, the governor granted a mass pardon for state-level cannabis possession offenses to offer relief to roughly 45,000 individuals.
In 2019, Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois also announced that his office was pardoning more than 11,000 individuals who had previously been convicted of simple marijuana possession prior to the launch of legal cannabis sales. In Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak pardoned some 15,000 individuals who had been convicted for low-level possession of marijuana.
These marijuana pardons further address the harms that marijuana prohibition has wreaked upon different families and communities. As conditions improve, the cannabis industry, major players such as TerrAscend Corp. (TSX: TSND) (OTCQX: TSNDF) inclusive, will stand a chance to thrive even more as a bigger section of the population becomes less apprehensive about consuming the substance.
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