Last updated: March 27, 2023
The news jumped on the story when the White House announced President Biden’s decision to issue a marijuana pardon en masse to federal offenders convicted of “simple marijuana possession.” The pardon also applies to marijuana offenders convicted of the same offense in the District of Columbia (DC). Biden is urging state governors to follow his lead and extend this type of pardon at state levels.
Being so close to an important election, there are those who are saying—quite loudly, of course—it’s a ploy used by the current administration to secure more votes. However, there are others who proclaim that even prominent Republicans are on board with the president’s decree. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
We’re going to drop the politics of it all like a hot potato though and focus instead on what Biden’s pardon can really secure for those who received it.
Marijuana legalization plays a big role
President Biden’s decision affected more than 6,500 individuals convicted of simple marijuana possession. Moreover, the White House indicated that number grows by the thousands when taking those pardoned under D.C. law into consideration as well.
Overall, Biden’s marijuana pardon is providing a lot of new leases on life.
Marijuana legalization makes forcing those convicted of simple marijuana possession to carry out their sentences seem extremely unfair to some people. In many of those same areas of the country, people can legally smoke marijuana in the privacy of their homes now—even transporting their private stash legally on the highways.
The paperwork portion of carrying out Biden’s pardon falls into the hands of the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney. It will implement the formal process of providing pardoned individuals with an official certificate of pardon. The proclamation also restores the individual’s political, civil, and any other rights previously denied to felons. That’s a big deal because it means they won’t be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities because of the prior felony conviction.
It’s a new lease on life
That last fact alone will have a huge impact on the lives of those receiving the president’s pardon. Felony convictions tend to follow a person throughout their life. Even if someone has made positive changes in their lifestyle, continuously being refused a job, for instance, tends to negatively affect one’s mindset after a while. Not to mention that drug charges often carry a stigma of their own.
Of course, companies that participate in a drug-free workplace program incorporate employee drug testing into their hiring process. You would think there would be no worries there. However, the shadow of a prior drug conviction hanging over a person could be the overall deal breaker even after passing their drug test. The marijuana pardon will bar that from happening for many.
Of course, we don’t know if the people released from their convictions will continue using marijuana. For that matter, we don’t know if they used marijuana in the past either though. What we do know is that their return to society isn’t going to include facing life with a felony conviction showing up on every background check and job application submitted. They’ll be saved from the agony of receiving a negative result far more often than not too.
One day at a time
There are other steps that people re-entering society after spending time incarcerated can take to make the transition less stressful. Many are the same as those used by someone coming out of a drug rehabilitation program. That’s because most are seeking a new way of life.
Keys for success include:
- Keeping a positive mindset—Thoughts precede action. Take negative thoughts captive immediately and replace them with something upbeat.
- Make a plan for success—List where you see yourself at various integrals down the road.
- Surround yourself with people who think as you do—Family is a great place to start! This stage of the game may include finding a new group of friends who plan to move forward with their lives too.
- Manage your stress—Finding a place to live or going home to your family, getting a new job, dealing with finances… There are many things in life that trigger stress. Find an outlet for release, such as an exercise regimen, perhaps.
- Note your milestones—When you achieve a goal, celebrate it!
Taking the best odds
Choosing to live a drug-free lifestyle means a person is healthier, capable of living life in the moment, and a positive role model for others. Breaking the cycle of addiction is tough, but those who have pushed through to the other side won’t hesitate to tell you that it was worth it!
While we have no idea if any of the 6,500+ people President Biden pardoned suffered from drug addiction, we believe that it’s pretty safe to say that a number of them will more than likely choose to live their lives drug-free from now on. Booyah to them! They just made a really good call.