Governor Beshear waits for more information before acting on pot possession pardons

The president challenged governors to do the same at the state level.
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 4:32 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - President Biden pardoned all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession Thursday.

He challenged governors to do the same at the state level.

“The Governor agrees that no one should be in jail simply because of possession of marijuana,” Scottie Ellis, Governor Beshear’s Deputy Communications Director said in a brief statement.

But no action was announced.

“The White House had not alerted and has not briefed our office on exactly what his pardons may require and the specific details of what they will and will not cover,” Ellis said.

State groups including the ACLU and the NAACP said Friday that the pardons would immediately help more than 7,000 Kentuckians, many described as people of color.

The federal change comes at a time when recreational marijuana is legal in 19 states and medical marijuana is legal in 38.

Kentucky is not on either list.

Despite bipartisan support, medical marijuana failed to pass in the state legislature.

Sponsor Jason Nemes said the pardons issue will not make a difference.

“It’s an interesting concept and it’s certainly good for the individual who’s been pardoned but it doesn’t change the conversation in the state legislature,” Nemes said.

But if the Biden Administration ends up decriminalizing marijuana, Nemes said it would be a “game changer.”

“There’s a number of people who said you know that’s something I could support but I can’t set up a Kentuckian to violate federal law by putting this in the Kentucky law,” Nemes said. “Now I think that’s wrong. But that’s a major obstacle that we have.”