Biden's announcement of pardons for federal convictions of marijuana possession is meaningless. The pardons free no one from prison and don't even expunge records.
“So there are no individuals currently in federal prison solely for simple possession of marijuana.”
Quote from a Senior administration official
Joe Biden’s announcement that he would pardon all federal convictions for possession of marijuana was quickly met with excitement. It isn’t hard to understand why that would be the case. Everyone knows that the United States is the world’s biggest jailer, with more than 2 million people behind bars, and that the various “wars on drugs” contributed to this dubious distinction.
But upon examination, the announcement was found to be meaningless. Anyone who thought that thousands of people would be freed from jail was in for a surprise. Most convictions in this country occur at the state level, not federal, so any Biden pardons would impact a small number of people. Also, very few people are convicted solely for possession of marijuana or any other narcotic. They are usually convicted for selling, distribution, or conspiracy as well. By definition, very few people would be eligible for a pardon.
Approximately 6,000 people have been convicted of marijuana possession in the last 30 years, but none of them are currently incarcerated. Biden’s announcement won’t free anyone from prison. Nor does a pardon expunge a criminal record. Those pardoned will still have convictions on their records that can make them ineligible for housing or employment. To use an overused expression, Biden’s marijuana pardon is a huge nothingburger.
This attempt to pull the wool over millions of eyes should be loudly condemned. Many of those 6,000 people convicted were victimized by the 1994 Crime Bill which was championed by a senator named Joe Biden. At the time he bragged that the legislation did “everything but hang people for jaywalking.” Or even send them to jail for marijuana possession.
Not only did Biden make a great show of doing absolutely nothing, but he also tacitly admitted that he has the power to end any possibility of federal marijuana convictions. Marijuana is currently categorized as a Schedule 1 drug on the list of controlled substances, just like heroin and cocaine. Now a few weeks before election day he claims he will look into making a change that he could have made as soon as he came to office.
Ronald Reagan began the draconian laws which created a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity for crack cocaine. Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama did nothing to change those harsh sentencing rules. Even when the disparity was lessened to 18 to 1, those already behind bars had no recourse. It was Donald Trump signing the First Step Act which provided the possibility of sentencing relief, although that legislation also fell short and freed far fewer people than it should have.
Biden’s smoke and mirrors are a direct insult to Black people, who have been harmed more than any other group in the decades long drug war that punishes the convicted for years after they may be freed from incarceration. But a last minute effort at window dressing and trickery only proves why Biden and the democratic party have done so much harm.
When the fine print became obvious the pardon announcement was disappeared by the administration and its friends in corporate media. This sorry episode is further proof of how the duopoly trap hurts Black voters, who are already predisposed to come to the aid of democrats even when they don’t deserve the help.
Of course Biden’s presence as Obama’s vice president and then beneficiary of more Obama help in 2020 were also slaps in the face. Jim Crow Joe should be anathema to Black voters but he isn’t. This last minute campaign stunt is just the latest insult in his nearly 50-year political career which allows him to tell bizarre stories about a Black man named Corn Pop, make remarks about a “racial jungle” and insult Black people to their faces.
Has any Black “leader” stated plainly that Biden’s marijuana pardon is a bad joke played upon people who want to see restorative justice? The question is rhetorical because the happy vassals in the Black political class continue to go along to get along. A few journalists have ferreted out the truth but unless the public are interested they may think that Biden has actually done something important on their behalf when he has actually done nothing at all.
Biden tried to cover himself with an appeal to governors to change their sentencing practices but thus far none have stepped forward. But it could not be otherwise in a system dedicated to keeping Black people controlled and punished. Every effort to diminish the prison industrial complex is met with fierce resistance, and racism is the reason why this phenomenon persists. No one knows this better than the man known as Jim Crow Joe. Any claim he makes of ameliorating mass incarceration is bound to be phony.
Margaret Kimberley is the author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents. You can support her on Patreon and also find her work on Twitter and on Telegram. She can be reached via email at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.