INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is pushing back against President Joe Biden, saying he "can't in good conscience" issue pardons for Hoosiers convicted of minor marijuana offenses in the state.
Biden announced earlier this month he would pardon thousands of Americans convicted of "simple possession" of marijuana under federal law and urged governors to follow his lead.
In a statement sent to 13News Monday, Holcomb said he would not offer blanket pardons for those offenders. Read his full statement below:
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.
What Indiana has done, is act proactively, not reactively, by creating an opportunity for those who have maintained a clean record since a conviction of simple marijuana possession and a number of lower-level offenses, to apply for – and receive – an expungement which seals their record. 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.
With the announced pardons, President Biden's administration takes a dramatic step toward decriminalizing the drug and addressing charging practices that disproportionately impact people of color.
Biden, in a statement, said the move reflects his position that "no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana."
"Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana," he added. "It's time that we right these wrongs."
According to the White House, no one is currently in federal prison solely for "simple possession" of the drug, but the pardon could help thousands overcome obstacles to renting a home or finding a job.
The pardon does not cover convictions for possession of other drugs, or for charges relating to producing or possessing marijuana with an intent to distribute. Biden is also not pardoning non-citizens who were in the U.S. without legal status at the time of their arrest.