President Joe Biden ceremonially pardoned a pair of turkeys on Friday ahead of next week’s Thanksgiving holiday. But asked whether he’d also extend clemency to people incarcerated in federal prison over marijuana offenses, the president and administration officials didn’t have much to say.
When Steven Nelson of the New York Post directly pressed Biden on whether he would be pardoning “any people in addition to turkeys,” the president treated the question as a joke.
“You need a pardon?” the president quipped to the reporter. He didn’t reply to a follow-up question about marijuana prisoners as he walked away from assembled journalists.
During a separate briefing on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was also pressed on the issue by Nelson.
“Are any humans going to be pardoned by President Biden? There are people who are serving life in prison for marijuana and want him to honor his commitment to release everyone in prison for pot,” the New York Post reporter said. “Are people going to get pardoned as well by President Biden?”
Psaki replied that she has “nothing new to update you on.”
“But the president is, of course—will look into the use of his clemency powers,” she added. “He’s talked about his approach, or his view, on non-violent drug offenders, but I don’t have anything to update you on on that today.”
It was a different tone than when the press secretary responded to a separate question about the Thanksgiving turkeys. When another reporter asked where the birds will go after they’re ceremonially pardoned, she said it was “an important question,” noting that the birds stayed in a hotel prior to Friday’s event.
All told, the episode speaks to the frustration of many advocates who have grown impatient with the president, who has served ten months in the Oval Office without having exercised his executive authority to fulfill his cannabis campaign pledge.
“Every day that goes by without pardon action, President Biden is breaking the promise he made to Senator Cory Booker and the American public in his campaign for the presidency,” Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “He should pardon people, not just birds.”
While Biden’s opposition to adult-use marijuana legalization is well known, activists have been holding out hope that he would at least move ahead with a clemency effort for those who continue to serve time in federal prison over cannabis.
The non-comments from the …….