President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that he would pardon all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession. The president's move is expected to affect 6,500 Americans, but the nearly 2,000 people convicted during his Vice President's tenure as San Francisco's district attorney DA will not be affected because their convictions were issued at the federal, not state level. There are an estimated 40,000 people in state prisons who are incarcerated for marijuana offenses, according to the data.
In addition to this issue, Biden urged governors to take action and pardon those sitting in state prisons for weed possession, which would affect people convicted between 2004 and 2011 when Kamala Harris served as San Francisco DA when she took part in 1,956 misdemeanors and felony convictions for cannabis possession, growing or sale.
Niki Solis, an attorney in the San Francisco Public Defenders' office, isn't saying that she is draconian in her pursuit of marijuana cases. Harris stated that the administration would decriminalize cannabis and expunge conviction records.
Some cannabis advocates and industry stakeholders were taken by surprise.
Seattle artist Teddy' Stat' Phillips, who is behind a campaign with Solstice Cannabis dubbed Free the Homies that seeks the release of pot prisoners, said he was not expecting it. I figured something would be coming around the midterm elections, but I didn't know what it was. KING 5 reported that Yoko Miyashita, CEO of Leafly Holdings, Inc. LFLY, called the president's move huge.
It has an impact on housing, she said. If you have a criminal record, they check if you have a criminal record when applying to rent a property. It has an impact on your family status. If you're trying to get custody of a child, this can negatively affect you. Think about all the jobs and background searches that are done. Governors will need to address the issue with most marijuana convictions on a state level.
The real work is going to start at the state level and local level. Phillips said that governors would have to get involved and try to push this through.