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October 7, 2022

Pressley’s Statement on President Biden’s Executive Order to Pardon Marijuana Possession

BOSTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) issued the following statement on President Biden’s executive action pardoning thousands of people for simple possession of marijuana:

“For too long, the criminal legal system and failed War on Drugs created and sustained a mass incarceration crisis that has ravaged Black and brown communities, destabilized our families, and exacerbated generational trauma. By using his clemency authority to pardon people convicted of simple possession of marijuana charges, President Biden has taken a bold step toward addressing the harms of cannabis criminalization and setting our communities on a pathway to healing.

“The President’s action today will help thousands in America secure housing and employment, and reduce other barriers that have prevented formerly incarcerated individuals from successfully re-entering society. As someone whose family has been directly impacted by America’s mass incarceration crisis, I know how meaningful the President’s action is and how much hope it will give to the millions in America charged with non-violent drug offenses, along with their loved ones and communities. I call on Governors across the country, including Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, to swiftly follow suit.

“Presidential pardon authority is powerful, and I applaud President Biden for heeding our calls and the calls of advocates and formerly incarcerated individuals nationwide. I urge Congress to pass my bill, the FIX Clemency Act, to address the unjust clemency backlog that has left more than 16,000 people waiting for a chance at redemption. The House has already passed legislation to legalize marijuana and address the harmful legacy of the War on Drugs, and the Senate must follow suit.

“Our work to transform our criminal legal system to center justice, equity and decarceration is far from finished, but this is exactly the type of leadership we need from the White House in this moment.”

On March 11, 2021, Rep. Pressley re-introduced the People’s Justice Guarantee, a comprehensive, decarceration-focused resolution that outlines a framework for a fair, equitable and just legal system, including the decriminalization of addiction and legalization of marijuana.

In December 2021, Rep. Pressley, along with Reps. Cori Bush (MO-01) and Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) and grassroots advocates, unveiled the Fair and Independent Experts in Clemency (FIX Clemency) Act, historic legislation to transform our nation’s broken clemency system and address the growing mass incarceration crisis.