Mr. President: Keep "Your Word as a Biden" and Expunge Marijuana Records
During the 2020 campaign, President Biden rightly stated: “No one should be in jail because of marijuana. As President, I will decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions.”
After one year in office, this promise has yet to be fulfilled. Despite having explicitly pledged to do so, this action, which would be supported by a majority of all Americans regardless of political persuasion and bring immediate justice to thousands, there has been no progress from the Administration to advance on federal marijuana expungements. That is why we need you to join us in urging Biden to follow through and take action to pardon those thousands of individuals who are saddled with a criminal record for a federal marijuana-related offense.
From: [Your Name]
During the 2020 campaign, you rightly stated: “No one should be in jail because of marijuana. As President, I will decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions.”
After one year in office, this promise has yet to be fulfilled. That is why I am urging you to follow through on your campaign pledge and take action to pardon those thousands of individuals who are saddled with a criminal record for a federal marijuana-related offense.
This is primarily an issue of justice. Branding thousands of our citizens as lifelong criminals because of a marijuana-related offense results in a litany of lost opportunities – including the potential loss of employment, housing, voting rights, professional licensing, and student aid – and serves no legitimate societal purpose. The imposition of such lifelong penalties is even more troublesome in instances where the criminal conviction is related to behavior or activities that are now legal under state law.
Taking this action would be a pivotal first step toward offsetting the human toll taken by the decades-long enforcement of the ‘war on drugs’ -- a war that has disproportionately impacted poor people and people of color, and a war that you championed earlier in your political career. By pardoning eligible federal marijuana prisoners and expunging their past marijuana convictions, you will provide tangible, instant relief to an estimated 10,000 individuals – primarily Black and Brown Americans and those from other marginalized communities.
You will also be advancing an issue that is uniquely popular among the American public. At a time when the very concept of “bipartisanship” is almost a fantasy, expunging the records of our fellow citizens for past marijuana convictions is one of the very few things that can unite voters and elected officials on both sides of the aisle.
A recent national survey found that 70 percent of respondents favor expunging the criminal records of those with marijuana-related convictions. This support included majorities of Democrats (81 percent), Independents (69 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) endorsing the expungement of marijuana convictions.
Mr. President, when you made these promises on the campaign trail, Americans took you at your word, your word as a Biden, that you would follow through. These same voters are now closely watching to see if you intend to honor your commitments. As they look forward to the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 Presidential race, it is the actions you take now that will shape their decisions.
Keep your promise. Do the right thing and begin to wind down our nation’s longest war, the drug war. Use the authority of your office to provide long-overdue relief to those suffering under the burden and stigma of a marijuana-related conviction and help move the nation just a little bit closer to the ideals of justice that we claim to uphold.