A group of more than 150 celebrities, athletes, politicians, law enforcement professionals and academics signed a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday, urging him to issue a “full, complete and unconditional pardon” to all people with non-violent federal marijuana convictions.
This comes as the administration is actively encouraging about 1,000 people who were temporarily placed in home confinement for federal drug offenses to fill out clemency application forms.
The new letter — signed by high-profile celebrities, musicians and sports stars including Drake, Killer Mike, Meek Mill, Deion Sanders, Kevin Garnett and Al Harrington — says the war on drugs “has crushed many souls and countless futures, while spreading intolerable levels of mistrust and dysfunction between minority communities and those sworn to protect them.”
The bipartisan letter was signed by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R/L), former U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Mark Holden of Koch Industries, clemency recipient Alice Johnson and state lawmakers in the Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas legislatures. Former federal prosecutors and other law enforcement professionals also signed on.
Relief from the federal war on marijuana would not only be just, it would also be good policy by advancing public safety and economic prosperity.The letter states
The letter references Biden’s comments on the campaign trail supporting cannabis decriminalization and committing to expunge marijuana convictions. “Enough is enough. No one should be locked up in federal prison for non-violent marijuana offenses,” states the letter, which was coordinated by civil rights activist Weldon Angelos, who received a presidential pardon for his own cannabis conviction from then-President Donald Trump. “No one should continue to bear the scarlet letter of a federal conviction for marijuana offenses of the past.”
The letter further points out those who will have their sentences commuted are incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana offenses and comprise a small percentage of the federal prison population. “Relief from the federal war on marijuana would not only be just, it would also be good policy by advancing public safety and economic prosperity. A general pardon poses a low risk to the American public by expunging records and releasing the last remaining prisoners of federal marijuana prohibition.”
The letter goes on to say there’s precedent for the relief, pointing out actions taken by presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in the 1970s to categorically forgive Americans who avoided the draft for the Vietnam War.
Rapper Ralo, who is serving an eight-year sentence for a nonviolent marijuana offense, is among the people the letter signers say is deserving of relief. In a news release, Ralo thanked the hip-hop community “for supporting my clemency because it’s just not right that corporations are allowed to violate federal law and become millionaires while people like myself go to prison for years. … But I am hopeful that Joe Biden will honor his campaign promise and grant us clemency, without delay, so that we can return home to our families and communities.”
The letter concludes by telling Biden “a general clemency will send a clear and powerful message that our country is truly taking a new course on criminal justice policy and practice.”
Read the entire letter here.
This piece is a part of a content-sharing arrangement between The News Station and Marijuana Moment.