Biden’s cannabis pardons didn’t free a single federal prisoner or deliver the expungement he promised
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom)
A protest at the White House calls attention to the thousands of federal cannabis offenders who remain incarcerated.
Edwin Rubis has served more than two decades of a 40-year federal prison sentence for participating in a marijuana distribution operation. Taking into account “good time” credit, he is not scheduled to be released until August 2032.
Rubis is one of about 3,000 federal prisoners whose cannabis-related sentences were unaffected by President Joe Biden’s mass pardon for low-level marijuana offenders. A protest at the White House today called attention to their predicament.
Biden’s October 6 proclamation applied only to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents convicted of simple marijuana possession under the Controlled Substances Act or the District of Columbia Code, none of whom was still incarcerated. Although his pardons could benefit as many as 10,000 or so individuals, that represents a tiny percentage of all simple possession cases, which typically are charged under state law. And Biden’s action will not release a single federal prisoner.
According to a 2021 report from Recidiviz, “more than 3,000 individuals are currently serving marijuana-related sentences in federal prison.” The report estimated that ending federal marijuana prohibition—a step that Biden has steadfastly resisted—would reduce the federal prison population by more than 2,800 over five years.
Published: October 25, 2022
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