SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Thursday afternoon, President Biden issued a blanket pardon for federal simple marijuana possession charges.
The Biden administration says it will help thousands of people nationwide.
But what does it mean for those in Southwest Missouri?
One attorney says federal charges for simple possession are rare and primarily on the state level.
“I actually don’t think there’s a single person in (federal) prison right now on this charge.” Attorney Nancy Price said. “I’ve been practicing in federal court since 1993. I think I might have had one simple possession case, but they are very, very rare. It’s just doesn’t happen.”
President Biden has also called on state governors to issue similar pardons.
Defense attorney Adam woody says a statewide pardon would be more impactful.
“If you go and pay a fine for a marijuana charge from that point forward, you have to put on any job application that asks, have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? The answer at that point would be yes.” Woody said. “(There’s) no doubt there are people there that this could have a big impact on. Again, if it comes down to the state level.”
Governor Parson issued a statement Thursday afternoon.
It reads, “President Biden’s action is limited to individuals who violated federal law and does not implicate state law in any way. In Missouri, those with criminal records can apply for expungement under state law. Governor Parson has used his state constitutional authority to grant pardons to individuals who demonstrate a changed lifestyle, commitment to rehabilitation, contrition, and contribution to their communities – rather than as a blanket approach to undermine existing law.”
Woody says this November, a pardon from the Governor may not be needed.
“The ballot measure in November would essentially eliminate this argument completely. If the ballot measure were to pass, there would be no need for a pardon. It would fully legalize marijuana recreationally in the state of Missouri,” Woody said. “In a portion of the ballot language, I believe also pardons anyone who is who has been convicted of marijuana in the past. So that would essentially do what President Biden did today at the state level.”