The president should keep “his word as a Biden” and act on this campaign promise
Washington, DC: Today, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) renewed its call for President Joe Biden to keep his campaign promise to expunge federal [cannabis] records in order to bring immediate justice and relief to thousands of Americans.
During the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden stated that “no one should be in jail because of cannabis use” and that as president, he would “decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions.” As we enter the second year of his presidency, no action has been taken to further those goals.
NORML is demanding that President Biden use his executive authority to issue a blanket pardon for all of those who currently are suffering the collateral consequences of having a non-violent, federal [cannabis] conviction on their records.
“This is primarily an issue of justice,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. “Branding thousands of our citizens as lifelong criminals because of a [cannabis]-related offense results in a litany of lost opportunities — including the potential loss of employment, housing, voting rights, professional licensing, and student aid — and serves no legitimate societal purpose. The imposition of such lifelong penalties is even more troublesome in instances where the criminal conviction is related to behavior or activities that many states have since legalized and regulated.”
He continued, “It is time for the president to keep his promises on this broadly supported issue. He can use the authority of his office to provide long-overdue relief to those suffering under the burden and stigma of a [cannabis] conviction and help move the nation just a little bit closer to the ideals of justice that we claim to uphold — assuming he actually cares about the principles he espoused when seeking votes in 2020.”
Recent polling reveals that a broad majority of Americans support expunging [cannabis] records. 70 percent of respondents favor expunging the criminal records of those with [cannabis]-related convictions. This support included majorities of Democrats (81 percent), Independents (69 percent), and Republicans (57 percent).
NORML has launched a public petition to show public support for this effort, which has already been signed by 20,000 individuals. You can view the petition here.
NORML advocates for changes in public policy so that the responsible possession and use of [cannabis] by adults is no longer subject to criminal penalties. NORML further advocates for a regulated commercial cannabis market so that activities involving the for-profit production and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products are safe, transparent, consumer-friendly, and are subject to state and/or local licensure. Finally, NORML advocates for additional changes in legal and regulatory policies so that those who use [cannabis] responsibly no longer face either social stigma or workplace discrimination, and so that those with past criminal records for [cannabis]-related violations have the opportunity to have their records automatically expunged.