Biden, Abbott spar over marijuana pardons

Politics

President Biden speaks to reporters before leaving the White House for Florida to survey damage from Hurricane Ian with first lady Jill Biden on Wednesday, October 5, 2022

(NewsNation) — Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and President Joe Biden are once again butting heads on policy — this time over marijuana.

Biden announced he’ll formally grant pardons to everyone in the U.S. who’s been convicted of federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana and he asked that governors consider doing the same at the state level, where the vast majority of pot offenders are convicted.

So far, we know of at least one who said no.

Abbott’s office said in a statement first reported by the Texas NPR station based in Austin that the governor will take the president’s recommendation, and follow his lead in pardoning marijuana offenders.

The statement, attributed to Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze, says, in part, “Texas is not in the habit of taking criminal justice advice from the leader of the defund police party and someone who has overseen a criminal justice system run amuck (sic) with cashless bail and a revolving door for violent criminals.”

The statement went on to explain the governor can’t just pardon anyone. They need to be recommended for a pardon by a third party, and there is a process.

This isn’t the first time Abbott and Biden haven’t seen eye to eye. Recently Biden slammed Abbott’s move to send migrant buses to Washington, New York and other places to make a point about the border crisis.

The White House called the effort inhumane and a stunt.

And after more than one mass shooting in Texas, including the heartwrenching killing in Uvalde where 19 children and two teachers died, the two leaders also disagreed on a way forward for gun control.

As the president made clear, he does not have the authority to pardon every single inmate locked up for marijuana possession, only those in federal custody, which affects only a few thousand people.

That’s why he’s recommending governors around the country follow his lead.

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