One of the major moves Biden made last week was to pardon every small possession federal marijuana conviction that was still active. However, that only went so far, considering most of these arrests happen on the state level. So President also urged Governors across the country to follow in his steps and pardon the same convictions, which would have a much farther-reaching effect.
Many Governors have responded over twitter and via press releases since the Presidents actions. Here’s a list of some of the reactions.
Via spokesperson, Governor Kay Ivey claims he does not have power to grant sweeping pardons, and each would be considered on a case-by-case basis. We’ll take that as inaction.
Governor Asa Hutchinson is also following the “case-by-case” response, saying that the President is “waiving the flag of surrender in the fight to save lives from drug abuse…” More inaction here.
Thrilled to see @POTUS follow Colorado’s lead – 2 years ago, I took bold action to clean up past inequities by pardoning convictions for Coloradans who possessed a small amount of cannabis. Today’s federal action will change people’s lives and not block their success.
— Governor Jared Polis (@GovofCO) October 6, 2022
Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill last year with a provision that will erase certain cannabis-related convictions.
No response from Governor Desantis, but you can certainly place your bets on him not following Biden’s advice.
Things are looking good! Governor David Ige is reviewing the president’s request to see if it aligns with state law, and the two nominees who would replace him are both supportive of the idea.
From Governor Brad Little: “It is clear President Biden issued this blanket pardon for show, setting a bad precedent when cases should be reviewed on their individual merits… But what’s not clear is whether Biden really understands that individuals incarcerated for possession of small amounts of marijuana almost always have accompanying offenses, making his blanket pardon basically pointless. Here in Idaho, we will continue to fight for a secure border and make our correctional system fair, with a focus on keeping dangerous people off the street.”
We know too many black and brown people were disproportionately impacted by disparities in prosecution and conviction. I’m proud to have taken action and I hope to see other states follow our lead.
— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) October 6, 2022
Case by case answer.
Governor Andy Beshear is still considering. They’re working on getting medical marijuana in the state.
Governor John Bel Edwards doesn’t have the authority to do sweeping pardons. These are done at a individual level at the State Board.
Their 2018 legislation allowed for expungements of marijuana-related offenses, and another bill this year broadens eligibility for this expungement.
MIchigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office statement on President Biden pardoning all Americans who’ve been convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law. Biden is urging governors to do the same for individuals with state convictions: pic.twitter.com/X1oG7nNUnw
— Samuel J. Robinson (@samueljrob) October 6, 2022
Governor Walz’s office on President Biden’s call for Governors to pardon state marijuana offenses: “Because pardons in Minnesota require a unanimous vote by the Board of Pardons, the Governor does not have the ability to take unilateral action.”
Full statement below. @WCCO pic.twitter.com/3CdGv6YScA
— Nick Streiff (@nickstreiff) October 6, 2022
In response to @POTUS pardoning prior federal simple marijuana offenses & asking governors to do the same, a spokeswoman for @GovParsonMO says the President’s action “does not implicate state law in any way” and says Missourians can “apply for expungement under state law.” #moleg pic.twitter.com/q2fQBM6jin
— Emily Manley (@EmilyManleyTV) October 6, 2022
Case by case.
Governor Pete Ricketts claims there is “no one in [their] state correctional system who has been incarcerated simply because they possessed marijuana.”
Nevada continues to lead the way.
In 2020, I brought forward – and the Nevada State Board of Pardons Commissioners passed – a resolution to summarily pardon thousands of persons who were convicted of minor marijuana offenses.https://t.co/r12hhMxmdR.
— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) October 6, 2022
Governor Chris Sununu is reviewing the President’s actions, and he does not have unilateral power to grant pardons.
This year, New Mexico identified over 155,000 outdated cannabis charges that qualify to be expunged—helping people and families across the state. This is just one way New Mexico’s cannabis rollout was one of the best, and most just, in the country.
— Michelle Lujan Grisham (@Michelle4NM) October 6, 2022
Governor Mike DeWine claims a person would need to be in possession of large quantities of marijuana in order to be incarcerated in their state.
I just coordinated a one-time, large-scale pardon effort for people with certain minor, non-violent marijuana convictions.
Under Pennsylvania law, I don’t have unilateral pardon authority — but I’m doing everything I can to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs. https://t.co/2eKOC5hZm0
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) October 6, 2022
The Governor and his team is reviewing their options, but they applaud the President’s move.
Governor Bill Lee will not be granting any pardons.
From Governor Greg Abbott: “Texas is not in the habit of taking criminal justice advice from the leader of the defund police party and someone who has overseen a criminal justice system run amuck with cashless bail and a revolving door for violent criminals.”
JUST IN: @GovCox statement to @fox13 on President Biden’s announcement on marijuana: https://t.co/ALBgfM6cxP #utpol #Utah pic.twitter.com/xAc8CQnnro
— Ben Winslow (@BenWinslow) October 7, 2022
Last year a program was announced that would allow low level drug offenders to apply for commutation.
Governor Tony Evers danced around a question about mass pardons, but has granted clemency to 30 people for cannabis and drug convictions.