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Arizonans Benefitting From Biden’s Weed Pardons

According to an azcentral report, more Arizonans will be able to benefit from pardons announced recently by President Joseph Biden for marijuana possession convictions than any past offenders from almost every other state. 

The United States Sentencing Commission’s analysis found that Arizona had more than 1,450 marijuana possession convictions between 1992-2021. This represents more than 20% of all the 6,500 pardoned cases. California has the highest number of people that will be pardoned by the executive order, having approximately 1,550 convictions for cannabis possession at low levels. Texas was the only state that had more than 1000 such convictions, with 1,015.

The number of people with convictions for federal marijuana possession is unknown. According to data from the Sentencing Commission, Arizona was responsible for having the most convictions in simple marijuana possession since 2015. The data shows that 93% of 500 convictions occurred during this time and resulted in sentences.

“For a lot of people out there, I imagine this is a really welcome relief,” said Jonathan Udell, an attorney with the Rose Law Group and acting co-director of Arizona NORML.

“I think there’s a lot of people out there that really feel the sting of being branded a non-law-abiding citizen,” he continued. “And this sends a very big message to those people that you’re not a bad person because you smoked a plant one time that grew out of the ground or possessed some grass in your pocket.”

Biden’s Pardons Affect 6,500 Convictions

Biden made public on October 6th that an executive order had been issued to grant pardons to all federal charges for simple marijuana possession. According to analysis by, the pardons will be effective for approximately 6,500 marijuana possession-related federal convictions and thousands of others in District of Columbia. The New York Times.

“As I often said during my campaign for President, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit,” Biden said in a statement. “Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”

Biden also urged state governors for similar actions in their respective jurisdictions. This is where the majority of marijuana possession charges are filed. The President also instructed the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney general Merrick Garland, as well as the Justice Department, to look into the classification of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. The Schedule 1 designation is for drugs that have no medical value or are at high risk of being abused.

White House: Cannabis Clemency Demonstrates Activists

Although many marijuana policy reform activists and representatives of the cannabis industry hailed Biden’s pardons as a historic step, others were unsatisfied with the limited scope of the action, which offers no relief for other federal marijuana-related convictions and resulted in no federal prisoners being released from prison. Students for Sensible Drug Policy D.C., and Marijuana Justice demonstrated outside the White House on Monday. Marijuana Justice (Last Prisoner Project), Maryland Marijuana Justice, and others demonstrated in front of the White House requesting that Biden take further action to end cannabis prohibition.

“It was a failed opportunity to make real change. The president could have done so much more than he did,” Steve DeAngelo, co-founder of the Last Prisoner Project, told the Washington Post. “He really only did the bare minimum thing that he could do to generate a positive-sounding press release.”

Redman of Dead Prez and M1 Of Dead Prez spoke at the event. There was also a 50-foot-tall inflatable joint, arrests of protesters for crossing security gates without authorization and a call to Biden to immediately release federal inmates with nonviolent cannabis-related convictions. Adam Eidinger (cannabis activist) is the co-founder and chief executive of D.C. Marijuana Justice, said the protestors’ demands include releasing 100 prisoners immediately and all 2,800 by Christmas.

“The greatest civil rights tragedy of the modern era is putting people behind bars for cannabis,” said Eidinger. “If we get any kind of interest from the White House, and they are willing to schedule meetings with representatives of those protests, then I imagine that we’ll call off civil disobedience and declare victory.”