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Advocates and lawmakers call on Biden to pardon non-violent cannabis offenders.
This week, NORML, NCIA, Minority Cannabis Business Association, and the newly-formed United States Cannabis Coalition, along with several other organizations, released a letter addressed to President Joe Biden. It reads:
“We urge you to clearly demonstrate your commitment to criminal justice reform by immediately issuing a general pardon to all former federal, non-violent cannabis offenders in the U.S.”
Further, NORML said that Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Barbara Lee, co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, would send their own letter to Biden “in the coming days.”
“Even before Congress sends President Biden a marijuana reform bill to sign, he has the unique ability to lead on criminal justice reform and provide immediate relief to thousands of Americans,” Blumenauer and Lee said in a statement. “We urge President Biden to grant executive clemency for all non-violent cannabis offenders and look forward to working with him and the incoming Attorney General on quickly making this a reality.”
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo will revise his legalization proposal.
During a press briefing on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made several announcements, and among them was a development related to his adult use cannabis legalization proposal, which is in his budget due on April 1.
“We don’t have an agreement yet, but I believe we’re making progress,” Cuomo said Monday. “I’m sending an amended bill. Legalizing recreational marijuana is something we’ve tried to do for several years. It is overdue, in my opinion. You have people who are incarcerated for crimes that, frankly, they shouldn’t have a record on. We also need the revenue from legalizing recreational cannabis.”
He continued, “It is a controversial topic. It’s a controversial and a difficult vote. I get it. I believe if we don’t have it done by the budget, we’re not going to get it done. And I think it would be a failing if we don’t get it done this year. And I think that would be a mistake. So we’re sending a new bill that reflects the conversations we’ve had. But I’m hopeful that we can come to an agreement and we can get it done. But I believe, because I’ve seen this movie before, if we don’t get it done by April 1, we won’t get it done. And again, that’s 45 days. 45 days sounds like a long period of time. In government, 45 days is a blink of an eye.”
+ Read Cannabis Wire’s deep-dive on where lawmakers stand on their approach to legalization, and the topics they care most about: equity and social justice, tax revenue allocation, and home grow.
++ Read Cannabis Wire’s full coverage of New York’s path to legalization here.
Today, New Jersey lawmakers will hold another vote on “clean up” legislation.
While lawmakers sent a comprehensive bill to implement adult use legalization to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in December, following voter approval of legalization at the ballot box the previous month, there has been ongoing disagreement between lawmakers and the governor on penalties for underage use, with the former pushing for leniency.
After previous attempts at so-called “clean up” legislation and compromise have fallen through, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote today on the latest such bill, S 3454, introduced by Sen. Nicholas Scutari late last week. Yesterday, the Committee discussed the bill ahead of today’s vote.
Among the speakers was Jiles Ship, president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), Reverend Charles F. Boyer, the founding director of Salvation and Social Justice, and Sarah Fajardo, the policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.
“The ACLU-NJ has recommended that New Jersey treat cannabis like tobacco. So trying to shift punitive impacts to those who sell to youth and to provide educational and cessation programming for youth,” Fajardo said. “And short of this approach, we do believe that the approach laid out in S 3454 does contain some important provisions that would limit punitive responses that are currently applied to youth in New Jersey for cannabis.”
Fajardo said the bill’s referrals to social service programs is “positive,” adding that ACLU-NJ has “offered the legislature a few suggestions on strengthening the data protections related to youth records.”