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 September 21

by Carolina

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 28: Drake performs at the New Look Wireless birthday party at Finsbury Park … [+] on June 28, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

WireImage

Drake, Killer Mike, Deion Sanders, Kevin Garnett, and other celebrities have signed a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden requesting a general pardon to all persons subjected to a federal criminal or civil enforcement based on non-violent marijuana offenses.

The Weldon Project’s President Weldon Angelos and Academy for Justice director Erik Luna gained signatures to the letter from over 150 artists, athletes, producers, lawmakers, and other professionals.

Signers urge President Biden to grant a full and unconditional pardon to all persons subject to federal criminal or civil enforcement based on non-violent marijuana offenses.

Although the war on drugs affected individuals of all races, the letter highlights how the effects of drug prohibition severely affected the poor, the powerless, and people of color.

The consequences of incarceration for marijuana-related offenses harm people, but federal marijuana hampers them to get a job, access affordable housing, and receive an education. “Enough is enough. No one should be locked up in federal prison for marijuana. No one should continue to bear the scarlet letter of a federal conviction for marijuana offenses,” the letter states.

The letter reminds Biden his position on decriminalization of cannabis. “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, completely zeroed out,” he said during Democratic Primary Debate in 2019.

Signers believe that relief from the federal war on marijuana would not only be appropriate, but it would also be a good policy by advancing public safety and economic prosperity.

Expunging records and releasing the last remaining prisoners of federal marijuana prohibition would pose a low risk to the American public, according to the signers. “Those who will have their sentences commuted comprise a small percentage of the federal prison population and are incarcerated only for non-violent marijuana offenses. All other beneficiaries of a categorical pardon represent an even lower risk since these people are already living peacefully among their neighbors,” the letter states.

“It’s time for the federal government to say the drug war is over when it comes to marijuana,” said in a press release Luna, who partnered up with Angelos to promote the initiative. “With the stroke of a pen, President Biden can help end the national criminal prohibition of marijuana, a crude policy that has wrought havoc for nearly a century.”

The Weldon Project is an organization dedicated to funding social change and financial aid for those who are still serving prison time for cannabis-related offenses. Its founder, Weldon Angelos, a music producer who has worked with Snoop Dogg and 2Pac’s recording group, was sentenced to a 55-year prison term in 2003 for selling less than $1,000 worth of cannabis. However, he was pardoned by former President Trump in 2020 after serving 13 years of his term in prison, thanks to a campaign championed by senators, celebrities, and news organizations, including the Washington Post and Rolling Stone magazine.

Among the celebrities that signed the letterer sent to Biden, some are not unknown to the cannabis community.

Canadian hip-hop artist Drake partnered with Canopy Growth in 2019 to launch the More Life Growth Company, a fully licensed producer of cannabis.

NBA star Kevin Garnett partnered up with Republican lawmakers in 2020 to ask Former U.S. President Trump to release marijuana prisoners.

Other celebrities who signed the letter include American rapper Killer Mike and NFL star Deion Sanders.

Over 40,000 people are convicted for marijuana offenses in federal prisons, according to several organizations. Only in 2018, there were almost 700,00 arrests for marijuana-related offenses  (most for possession) in the United States. However, states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana possession have seen a decline in marijuana possession arrests.

A 2020 survey by YouGov.com showed that 70% of respondents support expunging marijuana-related convictions.

In September, Cannabis Wire revealed that in July 2021, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced that it was seeking public comment on national drug policy. The initiative was part of a broader Executive Order by President Biden. The goal was to assess whether underserved communities face systemic barriers in accessing benefits and opportunities available according to those policies and programs. The ONDCP received thousands of comments, contained in around 300 pages. Many called for cannabis decriminalization or legalization to improve equity. Other comments highlighted that they found racist roots in the cannabis prohibition.

Original posted at www.forbes.com

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