Monday, June 5, 2023

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How Governors are responding to Biden’s Call for Marijuana Pardons

One of the major moves Biden made last week was to pardon every small possession federal marijuana conviction that was still active. However, that only went so far, considering most of these arrests happen on the state level. So President also urged Governors across the country to follow in his steps and pardon the same convictions, which would have a much farther-reaching effect.

Many Governors have responded over twitter and via press releases since the Presidents actions. Here’s a list of some of the reactions.

Alabama

Via spokesperson, Governor Kay Ivey claims he does not have power to grant sweeping pardons, and each would be considered on a case-by-case basis. We’ll take that as inaction.

Arkansas

Governor Asa Hutchinson is also following the “case-by-case” response, saying that the President is “waiving the flag of surrender in the fight to save lives from drug abuse…” More inaction here.

Colorado

Connecticut

Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill last year with a provision that will erase certain cannabis-related convictions.

Florida

No response from Governor Desantis, but you can certainly place your bets on him not following Biden’s advice.

Hawaii

Things are looking good! Governor David Ige is reviewing the president’s request to see if it aligns with state law, and the two nominees who would replace him are both supportive of the idea.

Idaho

From Governor Brad Little: “It is clear President Biden issued this blanket pardon for show, setting a bad precedent when cases should be reviewed on their individual merits… But what’s not clear is whether Biden really understands that individuals incarcerated for possession of small amounts of marijuana almost always have accompanying offenses, making his blanket pardon basically pointless. Here in Idaho, we will continue to fight for a secure border and make our correctional system fair, with a focus on keeping dangerous people off the street.”

Illinois

Kansas

Case by case answer.

Kentucky

Governor Andy Beshear is still considering. They’re working on getting medical marijuana in the state.

Louisiana

Governor John Bel Edwards doesn’t have the authority to do sweeping pardons. These are done at a individual level at the State Board.

Massachusetts

Their 2018 legislation allowed for expungements of marijuana-related offenses, and another bill this year broadens eligibility for this expungement.

Michigan

Minnesota

Missouri

Montana

Case by case.

Nebraska

Governor Pete Ricketts claims there is “no one in [their] state correctional system who has been incarcerated simply because they possessed marijuana.”

Nevada

New Hampshire

Governor Chris Sununu is reviewing the President’s actions, and he does not have unilateral power to grant pardons.

New Mexico

Ohio

Governor Mike DeWine claims a person would need to be in possession of large quantities of marijuana in order to be incarcerated in their state.

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

The Governor and his team is reviewing their options, but they applaud the President’s move.

Tennessee

Governor Bill Lee will not be granting any pardons.

Texas

From Governor Greg Abbott: “Texas is not in the habit of taking criminal justice advice from the leader of the defund police party and someone who has overseen a criminal justice system run amuck with cashless bail and a revolving door for violent criminals.”

Utah

Washington

Last year a program was announced that would allow low level drug offenders to apply for commutation.

Wisonsin

Governor Tony Evers danced around a question about mass pardons, but has granted clemency to 30 people for cannabis and drug convictions.

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