- Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried held a press conference on Monday to call for the pardons of Floridians charged with simple possession of marijuana
- Fried’s comments come after President Joe Biden pardoned individuals charged in federal cases last week
- Fried seeks to add the topic to the agenda for the state Clemency Board Meeting to be held in December
- State Senator Shevrin Jones drafted a separate letter to the governor last week, also calling for pardonings to take place
Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried on Monday held a press conference requesting that the Florida Clemency Board Meeting later this year include pardons for those convicted of simple marijuana possession.
Fried’s call to action follows last week’s announcement made by President Joe Biden that his administration is taking action by pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of simple possession of marijuana at the federal level. Following Biden’s announcement, he urged governors to take similar action at the state level.
After the press conference, Fried publicized a letter submitted to Gov. Ron DeSantis where she formally requested the addition of pardons to the Clemency Board’s agenda.
Freid is the latest Florida politician to draft such a letter to the governor after Sen. Shevrin Jones did so last Friday calling for the pardoning of thousands of Floridians convicted on charges of possession.
“The criminalization of simple marijuana possession has led to unnecessary, long-lasting consequences for too many Floridians, limiting their access to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” wrote Fried in her letter. “By placing this issue on the December 14 agenda of the State Board of Executive Clemency, and pardoning simple marijuana possession offenses, you can take a critical step towards rectifying past wrongs and moving state policy in line with the prevailing thoughts of most Floridians.”
Recent polling conducted by the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab revealed that a majority of Floridians support legalized recreational use in the state.
State leaders, however, have traditionally taken an opposing stance. DeSantis earlier this year said that he would be in favor of decriminalizing cannabis, but is hesitant to fully legalize its use.
“These effects are most pronounced in black and brown communities, where black and brown people are arrested and convicted at higher rates, even though their consumption is comparable to white Americans,” continued Fried.
Here is my official request. pic.twitter.com/uvXkGllkFo
— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) October 10, 2022
While Biden is pardoning those with convictions at the federal level, the move covers fewer than 7,000 individuals nationwide. With the vast majority of convictions taking place at the state level, Biden’s action affects few Floridians.
Fried, a medical marijuana advocate who campaigned on legalizing recreational use, referred to Biden’s order as “the right thing to do.”
The Clemency Board is comprised of the Florida Cabinet — Fried, DeSantis, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Attorney General Ashley Moody — and is responsible for deliberating requests for pardons from prisoners.
Legalization for recreational and medical use is working well in Colorado, Massachusetts and other states — and providing a huge boost to local communities’ finances.