Marijuana possession pardons: Some Bay Area residents set to benefit, but not all

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Friday, October 7, 2022
Marijuana pardons: Some Bay Area residents to benefit, but not all
Bay Area residents say Biden's federal cannabis pardons is a step in the right decision, but there's still a long way to go.

A marijuana reprieve could soon be on the horizon for thousands of Americans, including many here in the Bay Area.

It's already legal in many states, and criminal records for marijuana possession have led to needless barriers to employment, to housing and educational opportunities.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announcing several changes to the way cannabis is dealt with in the U.S.

RELATED: Biden pardons thousands convicted for 'simple possession' of marijuana

First, he called for a review of how marijuana is classified under federal law.

Currently, it's grouped in with drugs like LSD and heroin and can carry a heavy penalty.

Additionally, the president says he would pardon people with prior federal convictions of simple marijuana possession.

"The truth is everywhere it's going to affect a small number of people because there's not many people who are convicted of possession under federal law," said Tamar Todd, of the UC Berkeley School of Law.

RELATED: California employers will soon be banned for screening workers for marijuana

Senior administration officials say the pardons will affect about 6,500 Americans - because most people are convicted under state laws.

A move that's long overdue, says many Bay Area cannabis advocates.

"I'm trying to have a better attitude about it, but I just want it to be real. You hear a lot of talk. You hear a lot of politicians say things, they get in office and then they don't do things. I really just want to make sure it's real," said Tucky Blunt.

Tucky Blunt is a marijuana dispensary owner in Oakland, who was once arrested for selling weed years ago.

RELATED: Calif. marijuana brand donating $8.46 per sale to criminal justice reform efforts

He says the current federal laws have had a disproportionate impact on Black and brown communities for decades.

"People are now getting out of jail with these records for simple crimes but they're felons now and can't get jobs," Blunt said.

And while he believes we still have a long way to go, Blunt says he hopes Thursday's decisions is a step in the right direction.

"It's definitely a start and I believe it's headed there by the conversations we've been having, but it has to be done right with keeping us in mind," Blunt said.

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