In his final moments in the White House, Donald Trump spent his last days as president handing out pardons. Many Americans waited at the edge of their seats, waiting to see who Trump gave pardons. While there were some questionable choices on that list, many were happy to see that several individuals incarcerated due to marijuana charges received clemency.
Several active advocates deserve praise for making this decision possible. Among everyday advocates, several celebrities and Republican lawmakers pushed for these pardons to pass through.
Civil rights activists rallied and organized a letter for the Trump administration back in November. They plead the case for cannabis-related offenders and why they deserved freedom. The letter argued that these people would continue to suffer in federal prisons without some executive action. The authors even included a list of 24 individuals locked behind bars for cannabis-related crimes. Some of these people were serving life sentences!
While not everyone made the list this time around, several previously convicted individuals now celebrate their freedom. Michael Pelletier was one such individual who received clemency this month after serving 14 years of their life sentence for a marijuana conviction. Craig Cesal was another person who found themselves receiving a pardon.
In the end, 12 people received clemency. While only half of the people proposed in the letter, it still feels like an excellent victory. Although this does cause for celebration, advocates know that there is still a long way to go.
We still need to fight for the people on that list that didn’t get to go home – and we still need to fight for the people that didn’t make the list. Luke Scarmazzo was one name that didn’t make the final list. His sentence for running a state-legal medical marijuana business is 22 years! Even though he followed state law, they treated his case as though he was a cartel member. While he continues to hope for a pardon somewhere down the line, his freedom will have to wait for another day.
Aside from the 12 individuals pardoned for marijuana-related convictions, two dozen other drug offenders received pardons or commutations. These legal proceedings are an essential step in the right direction to getting cannabis “offenders” out of prisons.
Our society advanced its marijuana understanding and tolerance in the last decade, and it is high time our prisons reflected it. It’s not fair for people to spend their lives in jail for outdated crimes they wouldn’t face time for today.
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