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Gov. Parson will not give blanket pardon to marijuana offenders

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson will not pardon people convicted on minor marijuana offenses as President Joe Biden recommended. Last week, Biden announced plans to pardon federal convictions and urged governors to do the same at the state level.

A Parson said Biden’s declaration “does not implicate state law in any way.” Parson said he would not alter how he handled pardons for simple possession of marijuana, according to the “Springfield News-Leader.”

“In Missouri, those with criminal records can apply for expungement under state law,” Kelli Jones said in a statement. “Gov. 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.”

Parson has granted more pardons during his administration than any governor in recent history, announcing new commutations and clemency weekly.

Biden, in a policy announcement a month before November’s election, said he also had instructed the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to conduct a scientific review of how marijuana is scheduled under federal law, which could change how convictions and sentencing relating to the drug are handled.

Federal pardons, which will affect an estimated 6,500 people across the United States, will be issued “in coming days.” The vast majority of convictions related to marijuana charges happen at the state level.

Missourians will vote on November 8 on whether to amend the state constitution to legalize recreational marijuana. The proposed amendment also includes expungement provisions for nonviolent offenders.

READ: Missouri marijuana vote could make the state another Colorado

Parson has been outspoken in opposition to the proposal, which will appear on the ballot as Amendment 3, calling it a “disaster” that will mostly benefit “corporations behind marijuana.” On Thursday morning the governor reiterated his opposition, telling KCMO Talk Radio’s Pete Mundo that he doesn’t believe the time was right to legalize recreational use.

Colorado’s legalization of pot has not gone well with deaths increasing. Marijuana-related deaths in auto accidents has increased form 15% in 2014 to 25 percent in 2019. Authorities have also that net revenue from taxes on pot sales have been wiped out by increased state spending on drug rehab, workplace injury settlements, unemployment and other ramifications from recreational marijuana use.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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