Image Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Governor Bill Lee’s administration says he has no intention of pardoning individuals who have been convicted of possessing marijuana in Tennessee, even though President Joe Biden is pushing for governors to do so.
President Biden announced on Thursday that anyone who had a federal conviction for simple marijuana possession would be pardoned. This will impact approximately 6500 individuals, but most marijuana convictions come at the state level, not the federal level.
Biden then issued a request on Twitter for governors to do the same for state level convictions.
“I’m calling on governors to pardon simple state marijuana possession offenses,” Biden tweeted. “Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely for possessing marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either.”
According to Lee spokesperson Jade Byers, his administration is “not considering” granting any pardons for possession of marijuana.
Biden claims he is attempting to move away from federal policies that have been what he calls a “failed approach” to dealing with marijuana crimes.
Biden also said he is requesting that the U.S. Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services take some time to reconsider the current classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.
This classification puts marijuana at the same level as heroin and at an even higher level than fentanyl.
Biden also claims that convicting people of marijuana crimes wreaks havoc on families and is inherently racist.
“Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives – for conduct that is legal in many states,” Biden tweeted. “That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs.”
In Tennessee, the penalty for simple possession is up to a year in jail and a fine of $2500.
State Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby-District 11) told WPLN that he does not believe that Tennessee jails a large number of people for simple marijuana possession.
“I just don’t see that’s possible,” Faison said. “I would challenge someone to bring me a person who’s behind bars for simple possession.”
He also stated that most of the county district attorneys that he has talked with are not making those cases a priority in their areas.
According to Main Street Nashville, Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk says he has not prosecuted anyone for possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana since June 2020.
In July 2020, Funk said convictions of simple possession “do little to promote public health and even less to promote public safety.” He also stated that he felt that doing away with those lesser charges would actually lower what the state spends on court cases and housing of inmates.
Funk issued a statement of support for Biden’s call on Thursday as well.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com