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Remembering Biden's Promise to Expunge Criminal Records for Non-violent Marijuana Offenses

Updated: Mar 30, 2021



Westleaf X The Cannifornian


The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), alongside a cohort of businesspeople and activists teamed up to urge President Joe Biden to make good on his campaign promises. Specifically, his promise to expunge the criminal records of individuals who have been convicted of non-violent marijuana charges.


A letter sent to the White House this Presidents’ Day reminded President Biden of the statements he had made during his road to the presidency. The letter focused on his intent to clean the records of Americans with marijuana convictions. During a primary debate in November of 2019, Biden remarked, “I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period. And I think everyone – anyone who has a record – should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out.”


In the correspondence to the President, NORML highlighted how cannabis convictions have historically affected minority groups more severely. It went on to remind President Biden of his statements regarding racial equality. On his first day in office, he signed an executive order that said, “Our Nation deserves an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.” The letter reinforced this by stating the following, “Today, the long-term harm of cannabis prohibition in communities of color throughout the country is profound. As we look to solutions to provide healing, the dangerous policing tactics that were developed to execute the war on marijuana, including no-knock warrants and other aggressive tactics, shock the nation and have led us to historic levels of mistrust.”


If President Biden were to follow through on his remarks about equity and expunging the records of those who have committed non-violent cannabis related crime, the outcome would be a monumental president for criminal justice. The last year has been extremely progressive regarding cannabis law and regulation. It only seems fit for criminal justice reform to be a priority on the agenda of the powers that be.

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