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Holcomb won't consider pardons for simple marijuana possession despite Biden's request

Gov. Eric Holcomb
Posted at 11:47 AM, Oct 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-18 11:49:25-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb says he will not consider blanket pardons for all prior offenses of simple possession of marijuana despite President Biden's announcement of a plan to do so on the federal level.

It comes after Biden said he had instructed Attorney General Merrick Garland to develop an administration process so certificates of pardons go out to eligible individuals.

Biden has also asked governors to use their pardoning powers for marijuana convictions at the state level.

Holcomb pushed back, saying that the President should coordinate with Congress when it comes to changes to federal law.

"The President should work with Congress, not around them, to discuss changes to the law federally, especially if he is requesting Governors to overturn the work local prosecutors have done by simply enforcing the law. Until these federal law changes occur, I can’t in good conscience consider issuing blanket pardons for all such offenders," Holcomb's office said in a written statement.

Holcomb continued by arguing that Indiana already has a system by which records who've been convicted of simple marijuana possession and other lower-level offenses can apply to have their record expunged.

"I do agree that many of these offenses should not serve as a life sentence after an individual has served their time. Expunged convictions cannot be disclosed to employers, to those who grant licenses, or when seeking housing," Holcomb's statement reads.

Earlier this year, during Indiana's legislative session, 13 marijuana-related bills filed in the Indiana House and Senate never made it out of committee. The bills included proposals for marijuana legalization, decriminalization, medical use and regulation.

Holcomb has previously stated his opposition to marijuana legalization.

Recreational marijuana is legal in 18 states, including Illinois and Michigan, plus Washington, D.C., and it is legal for medicinal use in Ohio.