A team of athletes, musicians, and activists penned a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to pardon non-violent cannabis offenders.
When he was running for president, then-candidate Joe Biden said in 2019 that “nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana.” Now, some big names are putting pressure on the President to back up his words with action.
Al Harrington, Drake, Meek Mill, Killer Mike, Julio Jones, and John Wall are among those who have penned an open letter to Biden, calling on him to pardon non-violent cannabis offenders. The letter includes 150 signatures and extends beyond celebrities to lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and academics.
“We want the president to keep his word. When he was running for office, he said he supported decriminalization and expungement for prior marijuana possession, and we have yet to see it,” Harrington told Boardroom. “Encouraging people to file for clemency is great, but expungement is what we want. Innocent men and women shouldn’t be behind bars for the same reason others are becoming billionaires.”
Harrington is one of the most outspoken cannabis advocates in sports, having started his cannabis company, Viola, a decade ago, after some inspiration from his grandmother. Wall is also an industry investor, backing cannabis company LEUNE.
Though most states have decriminalized cannabis, the substance still results in half a million arrests per year. If Biden were to take executive action, he could change the lives of thousands of non-violent offenders, cutting short their sentences and expunging their records for offenses that are, in many cases, now legal.
“Pardoning those incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses and expunging their criminal records is an effort long overdue in this country. It needs to be a national priority,” said Chris Beals, CEO of WM Technologies Inc, operator of Weedmaps. “Under President Biden’s leadership, we can all do something to amend the damages caused by the so-called “war on drugs.””
he letter comes at a time when Biden, who has long opposed full cannabis legalization, is facing mounting pressure to take action.
Academy for Justice director Erik Luna is an additional signatory to the effort. From his vantage point, he explained via Benzinga the impact Biden can have.
“It’s time for the federal government to say the drug war is over when it comes to marijuana,” he said. “With the stroke of a pen, President Biden can help end the national criminal prohibition of marijuana, a crude policy that has wrought havoc for nearly a century.”
Meanwhile, with all eyes are on the President, Senate Democrats have drafted a bill to legalize cannabis federally, with majority leader Chuck Schumer serving as a sponsor. The US Conference of Mayors, a non-partisan coalition of mayors nationwide, additionally voted on a resolution last month calling on Biden to legalize marijuana and expunge prior cannabis convictions.
The tipping point on cannabis clemency is coming. At this point, the only question is when it gets a full embrace at the highest levels of government.