UPDATED: Biden to issue pardons for simple marijuana offenses, review schedule status October 6, 2022 By Griffin Coop President Joe Biden intends to pardon federal simple marijuana offenses and review marijuana’s classification under federal law. Updates to come. From Politico’s congressional correspondent: Big news here: Biden announces pardon of federal simple marijuana possession offenses and directs admin “to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.” Marijuana reform stalled in Congress so many Dems have been pushing this option. UPDATE: We are seeking reaction from a slew of voices within the Arkansas marijuana industry, advocacy, and opposition. Here’s what we have: Melissa Fults, longtime Arkansas marijuana advocate: Though it needs to go much further, I am THRILLED! HOPEFULLY, Asa will do the right thing and start pardoning other possession convictions here. Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, former adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and an opponent of the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment: “President Biden’s actions are important for promoting criminal justice reform—and they prove we don’t have to legalize a Big Tobacco-backed industry in order to change marijuana laws. No one deserves to be in jail for a joint. But we should also not be selling highly potent THC products, nor should we promote and encourage use among young people. President Biden continues to oppose legalizing marijuana, and we are grateful to the Administration for this. “We are also heartened by the President’s public statement accompanying the pardon, which noted that we need important ‘limitations’ on trafficking, marketing, and underage sales. “The marijuana industry will be disappointed with the President’s statement as they are trafficking in very large amounts of marijuana on a daily basis. “Today’s pardon also proves that our prisons were never filled with non-violent marijuana offenders, as only 6,500 people over 30 years will be affected. Their imprisonment should not have happened, but the hyperbole of legalization advocates urging commercialization as a way to reduce incarceration is plain wrong. “We will be working closely with the Justice Department to make sure any review of marijuana’s scheduling is science-based and goes through the proper Food and Drug Administration (FDA) channels. SAM has long advocated for a new schedule for marijuana—a Schedule 1R or 1A—which would signal the drug’s danger while also allowing for easier protocols to conduct research.” Senator Tom Cotton (R-Little Rock), who has said the United States has an under-incarceration problem, posted a response on Twitter: In the midst of a crime wave and on the brink of a recession, Joe Biden is giving blanket pardons to drug offenders—many of whom pled down from more serious charges. This is a desperate attempt to distract from failed leadership. David Couch, marijuana advocate, author of the 2016 medical marijuana amendment and opponent of the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment: Simple marijuana possession charges have overly burdened and punished many Arkansans for decades. It would be a compassionate move for the Governor of Arkansas to do the same and I would encourage our Governor to do so. I wish the the backers of Issue 4 would have included this provision in their initiative. Alex Gray, chief strategy officer at Good Day Farm: “Today marks a significant milestone in our collective journey toward decriminalizing cannabis in America. At the federal level, these pardons will clear more than 7,000 people who were convicted of simple possession of marijuana between 1993 and 2021, reuniting families and making it easier for these individuals to find jobs and housing. At Good Day Farm, we believe in legal access to good cannabis for adults, and that no one should be incarcerated for simple cannabis crimes.” Robert deBin, Chairman of the Board of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association and CEO of Natural State Medicinals: We applaud President Biden’s action today and are happy that he has begun to honor the promises made during his campaign. Today will go down in history as the first big step toward federal legalization of cannabis. While we have much to celebrate with the White House’s announcement, there is still much work to be done both nationally and in our Natural State. We hope that our governor answers the president’s call to follow suit and pardon our fellow Arkansans who have been convicted of simple marijuana possession. This November, Arkansas voters will have a similar opportunity to further make history by voting in favor of Issue 4. This would put an end to the annual arrests of over 5000 Arkansans. We hope our fellow Arkansans will build upon this momentum by making Arkansas the first state in the south to legalize cannabis for responsible adult use. Governor Asa Hutchinson issued this statement via Twitter: The President, in his announced policy on marijuana, has waived the flag of surrender in the fight to save lives from drug abuse and has adopted all the talking points of the drug legalizers. The Department of Justice should not issue blanket pardons but each case should be looked at individually. As Governor I have issued hundreds of pardons to those who have been convicted of drug offenses. But in this time of rising crime, there should be a clear record of law-abiding conduct before pardons are issued. In terms of rescheduling marijuana, the president is ignoring the science that is behind the different categories of drugs. While his proposal sounds good, this is a step that has not been taken by the Obama Administration or the Trump Administration. Biden is simply playing election-year politics and sacrificing our national interest to win votes. Eddie Armstrong, chair of Responsible Growth Arkansas, sponsor of the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment: The latest news out of Washington is an example of state level leadership pushing the federal government in the right direction. Over half of the US population now lives in states where medical and/or recreational cannabis is currently legal. By a 2 to 1 margin Arkansans support authorizing adult use cannabis. State governments and citizens have moved forward overwhelmingly to legalize adult use cannabis.