Louisiana governor rejects Biden's call to pardon marijuana offenders

By 
 June 25, 2024

President Joe Biden has repeatedly demanded that state governors issue pardons to those convicted of marijuana possession.

However, Louisiana Republican Gov. Jeff Landry isn't onboard with that approach, and recently vetoed a bill that would pardon marijuana offenders.

Landry says bill "explicitly violates the Louisiana Constitution"

According to Benzinga, the legislation in question is House Bill 391, which was authored by Democratic State Reps. Delisha Boyd, Tehmi Chassion, and Alonzo Knox.

It provided "that persons convicted of certain 3 offenses of possession of marijuana shall be eligible for pardon by the governor 4 without the requirement of completion of sentence and without recommendation to 5 the Board of Pardons; and to provide for related matters."

Landry announced his intent to veto the bill in a letter sent out on June 20 to Clerk of the House of Representatives Michelle Fontenot.

In explaining his decision, the governor complained that House Bill 391 "explicitly violates the Louisiana Constitution."

Specifically, he pointed to "Article IV, Section 5(E)(l), which states that a favorable recommendation of the Board of Pardons is required before a Governor may even consider exercising his authority to pardon or commute a criminal conviction or sentence."

Governor slams Biden's "no-consequences-for-criminals agenda"

"Moreover, House Bill 391 is simply unnecessary as the Louisiana Constitution already provides for an automatic pardon for a first-time nonviolent offense," Landry continued.

The governor further remarked that the bill "appears to be an attempt to have Louisiana accept President Joe Biden's invitation to the states to join his soft-on-crime, no-consequences-for-criminals agenda."

Landry went on to pledge that he "will continue to fight to strengthen our criminal justice system and the rule of law in Louisiana."

Landry's veto came two months after Biden reiterated his call for "all governors to pardon prior state offenses of simple possession of marijuana."

Biden issued mass pardon for marijuana offenders in 2022

The president announced in October of 2022 that he was "pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession."

"There are thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My pardon will remove this burden," Biden added.

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Thomas Jefferson
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