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NACDL - National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Oct 06, 2022

NACDL Applauds Historic Presidential Pardons to Address Failed War on Drugs

Washington, DC (Oct. 6, 2022)– President Biden made an unprecedented announcement on October 6, 2022, in response to the years of failed legislation and politics that have incarcerated thousands of people for simple, non-violent drug offenses. President Biden will be pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana, a bold move which will provide relief to thousands of people with simple drug convictions. He also urges all Governors to use their power to grant relief to individuals at the state level and is asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to start a review process for the scheduling of marijuana under federal law.

NACDL President Nellie L. King stated:

"This systemic action by the White House is a first step down a long road of addressing the failed policies that have targeted nonviolent individuals and created a system of mass incarceration which disproportionately impacts low-income and Black and brown communities. These pardons will allow thousands of individuals to participate more fully in their communities without looking back to the past."

NACDL Executive Director Lisa Monet Wayne stated:

"NACDL has long advocated for those incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses and an end to the fundamental injustice inflicted upon those who have suffered criminal convictions for conduct which is now legal. Yet these people continue to be imprisoned and to experience the collateral consequences of their convictions. That is why NACDL’s Return to Freedom Project advocates for clemency, compassionate release, and expungement. But this crisis cannot be addressed simply on an individualized basis. To begin to truly heal the immeasurable traumas of mass incarceration and systemic racism, we need to see these solutions applied at a massive scale. NACDL therefore calls on President Biden to exercise the full scope of his clemency power, including pardoning the non-citizens excluded from this announcement."

She continued:

"Marijuana-related convictions are deeply rooted in racist policies. The presidential pardon removes a sense of stigma by recognizing that thousands of people convicted of simple marijuana possession – including a disproportionate number of people who are poor, Black, or brown – are back on track. And they deserve a second chance. Receiving a pardon means improved opportunities to get a job, secure housing, run for public office, or serve on a jury. Many of the people pardoned will now be eligible to seek an expungement of their records as well, which would truly be a clean slate. Of course, presidential pardons apply only to federal offenses; they do not apply to state or local offenses. So we hope that state and local officials will follow the president’s lead."

John Albanes, Legal Director of NACDL’s Return to Freedom Project, stated:

"NACDL applauds this long-overdue step towards righting the wrongs of the War on Drugs and hopes that further executive and legislative action will bring an end to all marijuana prosecutions, whether for possession or sale. For-profit marijuana distribution is currently lawful in an ever-increasing number of states. There is no valid reason why individuals should continue to face the ire of the federal government for conduct that has resulted in a multi-billion-dollar, legal industry."

Learn more about NACDL’sCannabis Justice Initiative.


Jonathan Hutson, Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 465-7662 or jhutson@nacdl.org

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.

This article was syndicated from the NACDL website and originally appeared on:

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NACDL - National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Founded in 1958, NACDL is the largest organization for criminal defense lawyers fighting to preserve fairness within America's criminal justice system. The organization has more than 10,000 direct members including criminal defense attorneys in private practice, public defenders in state or federal court, U.S. military defense counsel, law professors and judges.