CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — West Virginia Democrats are calling on Gov. Jim Justice to pardon those who have been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession in West Virginia after President Joe Biden did the same federally on Thursday.
When the move was announced, the White House urged governors to take similar action. Biden Administration officials told reporters at the time of the announcement that the pardons could benefit about 6,500 people, though they also said that there is nobody in federal prison for simple marijuana possession.
In a press release Friday, West Virginia Democratic Party Chair Mike Pushkin called on Gov. Jim Justice to do what the Biden administration asked saying:
Over the years, untold millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on arresting and prosecuting people for something that is legal in many other states. Such prosecutions clog our courts, overcrowd our jails, and waste scarce law enforcement time and resources. On top of that, people convicted for this misdemeanor face obstacles to employment, finding housing, and receiving federal student loans. People who can’t find decent jobs, adequate housing, and access to education are more likely to end up on public assistance or to turn to crime to support themselves.West Virginia Democratic Party Chair Mike Pushkin
Pushkin then clarified that the pardon would not apply to people convicted of illegally selling or distributing marijuana in West Virginia. He said that in 2020, there were more than 8,000 marijuana arrests in West Virginia and 279 incarcerated for marijuana.