Biden’s marijuana pardons could increase job, housing opportunities

President Biden released a series of tweets today outline his steps to what he called a “Failed Approach” when it comes to Marijuana Laws in the country.
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 6:36 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - President Biden in a series of tweets today announced plans to erase federal marijuana convictions and outlined efforts to repair what he called a “failed approach” to the legal status of the substance.

The president stated an intent to pardon all federal charges for simple marijuana possession and called on individual state governors to pardon simple possession offenses in their states.

President Biden is also requesting a review of how marijuana — which is currently a Schedule 1 substance — is controlled under federal drug laws.

According to the White House, no one is currently incarcerated at the federal level solely for possession of marijuana.

A pardon of these charges could allow those with prior marijuana convictions to have better access to housing and employment. According to the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association (AMIC), it’s a step in the right direction.

“That’s wonderful. That’s huge incremental progress. Nobody should be in jail anywhere in this country for having a joint in their pocket,” AMIC board member Lacy Wilcox said.

Right now, those simple convictions are popping up during background checks and in court records as drug possession.

“If they had a federal conviction and that was what was showing up on their background check when they were applying to jobs or housing, and they had a federal conviction that is no longer going to appear, that absolutely will change the trajectory of their life. They will have better access to jobs and housing,” Wilcox said.

Gov. Dunleavy’s office said via a statement on Thursday that “In Alaska, we do not have anyone in jail for simple possession of marijuana. As to the federal action, no executive clemency actions have been taken yet, so it is difficult to comment until we see the actual action take place.”

The president’s pardon does not legalize marijuana. The impacts of legalization, professionals say, is not yet known.

“It’s unclear at this point how this step alone will have a substantial impact directly on our local economy,” Alaska cannabis attorney Jana Weltzin said.

“President Biden is pardoning simple federal possession only. He is not removing it as a Class 1, or decriminalizing it all together at once. It’s a step that could lead to economic impact after federal legalization, what that impact could be is going to vary depending on each states’ system and market,” Weltzin said.

Biden’s pardon does not include convictions for the cultivation of marijuana or possession of it with the intent to distribute. Any state convictions would need to be pardoned by the state in which charges were filed.