The power of the presidential pardon has long been upheld as a sign of the justice system’s ability to forgive wrongdoing when necessary. Under the administration of the former guy, we saw it being abused egregiously, as he tried to dangle them to his inferiors as a way to get them to do his bidding – while handing them out to some of his most reckless supporters that were never directly involved in his schemes – such as disgraced former sheriff Joe Arpaio. On Thursday, however, we got an example of the presidential pardon being used as it was intended, as President Biden used his executive powers to pardon all American citizens federally convicted of simple marijuana possession – part of a larger plan for federal reform on how the government classifies the controlled substance.
Considering the thousands of people who have been locked up over the years for an offense as trivial as possession and then have been denied housing or other assistance as a result of conviction, this will see an immediate improvement in the lives of many. Realizing the limit to what his pardon can do, he called on governors to enact similar pardons for all of those convicted at the state level for simple possession – something that will unfortunately be met with resistance from a number of Republican governors. It comes, however, at a time that will be politically inconvenient for many, as President Biden has given them yet another opportunity to be on the right side of a political issue only to see them refuse to support a popular position just as early voting begins for the 2022 midterms.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making