Elizabeth Oyer, attorney of the Department of Justice (DOJ) pardon office, said it is up to President Joe Biden to initiate a clemency process for individuals with federal non-violent cannabis convictions, reported Marijuana Moment.
At an event hosted by the Justice Roundtable, a coalition of criminal justice reform organizations, Oyer said that the DOJ’s pardon office analyzes petitions for relief on an individual basis and then makes recommendations to the president.
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“If the president takes action, a categorical pardon for people with federal cannabis background is still possible,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland last April.
Oyer explained that at the moment, the Office of the Pardon Attorney reviews every individual clemency application thought that could change at the president’s direction. “Currently, what we do is we look at cases individually for the most part and not categorically.”
In April 2022, Biden granted clemency to individuals with non-violent federal drug convictions and commuted the sentences of 75 people who were serving time at home because of the pandemic.
Racial Equity And Harm Reduction
The pardon attorney also said that her office makes clemency recommendations by taking into account broad categories of policy objectives, criminal justice reform goals or racial justice objectives.
“So we’re absolutely taking into consideration those categories and those policy objectives and those racial equity objectives, but we don’t look at cases in a batch without individualized review,” Oyer said. “We do look at every single case individually.”
During the event, Oyer advised advocates to file clemency petitions and she addressed the backlog of cases under review.
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Meanwhile, White House drug czar, Dr. Rahul Gupta said recently that the Biden administration prioritized harm reduction as a response to drug abuse while examining information on cannabis legalization and safe injection sites.
“For the first time in history, the federal government is embracing the specific policies of harm reduction,” Gupta said.
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.