Protestors decked out in weed regalia gathered outside the White House this morning alongside a 50-foot inflatable joint. Their demands? For Biden to release people incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis convictions.
This comes after news earlier this month that Biden would pardon about 6,500 people convicted on federal charges from 1992 to 2021. The move leaves many people out, including people facing state charges and undocumented immigrants. Oh, and one more catch: nobody has actually been released from prison. White House officials have acknowledged that nobody is currently in federal prison solely for cannabis possession, and therefore, nobody has been released from federal prison following the announcement.
The Last Prisoner Project’s founder, Steve DeAngelo, was at the protest this morning. “It was a failed opportunity to make real change. The president could have done so much more than he did,” he told the Washington Post of Biden’s announcement.
Founder of DC Marijuana Justice, Adam Eidinger, told press that part of the organizers’ demands include the immediate release of 100 prisoners, and the release of all 2,800 people who remain in federal prison for cannabis convictions by this Christmas.
Of the people left out by Biden’s recent pardons is Edwin Rubis, who has been locked up for more than two decades for his involvement in a distribution conspiracy. “I don’t belong in prison any longer,” Rubis told Washington Post reporters from an Alabama prison phone. “I might have belonged in prison when I first came in, the first two, three, four years, but I have done so many things that the system has asked me to do. I believe I’m truly rehabilitated.”
We heard from Rubis this last 4/20, as the world celebrated the biggest weed holiday without him and other incarcerated individuals. “There are many who believe I shouldn’t be here for a plant that’s now legal in thirty-five states and counting. The hundreds of letters I’ve received over the years testify of such lamentation,” he said in the letter. “Yet feeling empathy for my situation, and others in the same boat, can only take you so far. Telling me, ‘that’s a horrible thing you’re going through,’ can only comfort me so much. Our unjust situation needs radical personal involvement. A campaign in the form of NO-PARDON-NO-VOTE aimed at President Biden in the next election, or something of the sort.”