President Joe Biden's pardon on all prior simple marijuana offenses is "timed for the election," according to strategists who consider the new move to be a distraction tactic from the Democrats as the midterms started looking grim for the party.
Biden announced Thursday that he would be pardoning thousands of marijuana convictions. "No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana," he stated in a clip shared to Twitter.
"I think this is part of the electric car, student loan, marijuana strategy all timed for the election. Don’t think it overcomes particularly the growing issue of crime and drug related crime in the country," said Mark Penn, a former advisor to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.
Kellyanne Conway, political strategist and Fox News contributor, agreed that the marijuana pardon is a diversion from the Biden administration to distract voters from the real issues they are concerned about, like rising prices and the border crisis.
"Whether it is student loan forgiveness or pardoning marijuana possession convictions, a bereft Biden tries hard to change the subject and get people who dislike him to dislike him a little bit less," Conway said.
"This is less likely to motivate voters than it is to embarrass Vice President Kamala Harris. As San Francisco’s top prosecutor between 2004 and 2010, her office handled more than 1,900 marijuana convictions. Even if this makes sense legally or practically to Biden, he runs the risk as being seen again as ignoring the broader and deeper concerns surrounding violent crime surges and an inescapably devastating economic picture."
Harris supported the Biden administration's move. "This is a step forward in correcting the historical injustices of failed drug policies," Harris stated in a Thursday tweet following Biden's announcement.
"As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana," Biden tweeted Thursday. "Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives — for conduct that is legal in many states. That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs."
Marijuana legalization is also on the ballot in several states this November. Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Maryland residents will all see an option on their ballot to legalize the use and sale of cannabis for adults 21 years and older.