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Obama Pardons Three for Marijuana, Frees Crack Prisoner

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #710)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The White House announced Monday that President Barack Obama had granted pardons to five people, including three whose offenses were marijuana-related, and commuted the sentence of a woman doing more than 20 years on a crack cocaine charge. As is the case with every administration, the White House provided no explanation for its choice of pardons.

The only recipient of presidential largesse who was still actually serving a prison sentence is Eugenia Marie Jennings of Alton, Illinois. She was almost halfway through a 22-year sentence for crack cocaine distribution when President Obama commuted her sentence. She will now be released in one month, but will still have to serve eight years of probation. Jennings's brother, Cedric Parker, testified before the House Judiciary Committee in 2009.

This is the third set of clemencies issued by President Obama. Each of the earlier sets also included at least one drug offender. So far, President Obama has pardoned or commuted the sentences of 23 people.

The number of clemencies issued by President Obama is small so far compared to other presidents. George W. Bush pardoned or commuted the sentences of 200 people, while Bill Clinton pardoned 459. Other presidents have also pardoned hundreds of people during the course of their terms.

The marijuana offenders pardoned Monday were:

  • Lesly Claywood Berry Jr. of Loreto, Kentucky, pardoned for 1988 convictions in federal court in Minnesota for conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana. He had done three years in federal prison.
  • A second Kentucky man, Ricky Dale Collett of Annville, pardoned for a 2002 conviction in federal court in his home state for aiding and abetting a 61 plant marijuana grow. He had done a year's probation and two months home detention.
  • Dennis George Bulin of Wesley Chapel, Florida, pardoned for a 1987 conviction in federal court in Alabama for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 pounds of marijuana. He had done five years probation and paid a $20,000 fine.

The other two pardons were of an Illinois man convicted of stolen property offenses and a Tennessee man with a federal gambling conviction.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


malcolmkyle (not verified)


While bullets fly into El Paso, bodies pile up in the streets of Juarez, and thugs with gold-plated AK-47s and albino tiger pens are beheading federal officials and dissolving their torsos in vats of acid, here are some facts concerning the peaceful situation in Holland. --Please save a copy and use it as a reference when debating prohibitionists who claim the exact opposite concerning reality as presented here below:

Cannabis-coffee-shops are not only restricted to the Capital of Holland, Amsterdam. They can be found in more than 50 cities and towns across the country. At present, only the retail sale of five grams is tolerated, so production remains criminalized. The mayors of a majority of the cities with coffeeshops have long urged the national government to also decriminalize the supply side.

A poll taken last year indicated that some 50% of the Dutch population thinks cannabis should be fully legalized while only 25% wanted a complete ban. Even though 62% of the voters said they had never taken cannabis. An earlier poll also indicated 80% opposing coffee shop closures.

It is true that the number of coffee shops has fallen from its peak of around 2,500 throughout the country to around 700 now. The problems, if any, concern mostly marijuana-tourists and are largely confined to cities and small towns near the borders with Germany and Belgium. These problems, mostly involve traffic jams, and are the result of cannabis prohibition in neighboring countries. Public nuisance problems with the coffee shops are minimal when compared with bars, as is demonstrated by the rarity of calls for the police for problems at coffee shops.

While it is true that lifetime and past-month use rates did increase back in the seventies and eighties, the critics shamefully fail to report that there were comparable and larger increases in cannabis use in most, if not all, neighboring countries which continued complete prohibition.

According to the World Health Organization only 19.8 percent of the Dutch have used marijuana, less than half the U.S. figure. 

In Holland 9.7% of young adults (aged 15 to 24) consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%). Few transcend to becoming problem drug users (0.44%), well below the average (0.52%) of the compared countries.

The WHO survey of 17 countries finds that the United States has the highest usage rates for nearly all illegal substances.

In the U.S. 42.4 percent admitted having used marijuana. The only other nation that came close was New Zealand, another bastion of get-tough policies, at 41.9 percent. No one else was even close. The results for cocaine use were similar, with the U.S. again leading the world by a large margin.

Even more striking is what the researchers found when they asked young adults when they had started using marijuana. Again, the U.S. led the world, with 20.2 percent trying marijuana by age 15. No other country was even close, and in Holland, just 7 percent used marijuana by 15 -- roughly one-third of the U.S. figure.


In 1998, the US Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claimed that the U.S. had less than half the murder rate of the Netherlands. That’s drugs, he explained. The Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics immediately issued a special press release explaining that the actual Dutch murder rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people, or less than one-quarter the U.S. murder rate.

Here is a very recent article by a psychiatrist from Amsterdam, exposing Drug Czar misinformation

Now let's look at a comparative analysis of the levels of cannabis use in two cities: Amsterdam and San Francisco, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health May 2004,

The San Francisco prevalence survey showed that 39.2% of the population had used cannabis. This is 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample

Source: Craig Reinarman, Peter D.A. Cohen and Hendrien L. Kaal, The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy

Moreover, 51% of people who had smoked cannabis in San Francisco reported that they were offered heroin, cocaine or amphetamine the last time they purchased cannabis. In contrast, only 15% of Amsterdam residents who had ingested marijuana reported the same conditions. Prohibition is the ‘Gateway Policy’ that forces cannabis seekers to buy from criminals who gladly expose them to harder drugs. 

The indicators of death, disease and corruption are even much better in the Netherlands than in Sweden for instance, a country praised by UNODC for its so called successful drug policy.

Here's Antonio Maria Costa doing his level best to avoid discussing the success of Dutch drug policy: 

The Netherlands also provides heroin on prescription under tight regulation to about 1500 long-term heroin addicts for whom methadone maintenance treatment has failed.

The Dutch justice ministry announced, in May 2009, the closure of eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty. There's simply not enough criminals

For further information, kindly check out this very informative FAQ provided by Radio Netherlands:

or go to this page:

Tue, 11/22/2011 - 10:01am Permalink
t bone (not verified)

I dont know why Calvin Treiber hasnt been pardon yet he has been in federal prison for almost 20 years for nothing more than marijuana i think he has served more than his fair share and should be pardoned.

Tue, 11/22/2011 - 2:17pm Permalink
Tony Aroma (not verified)

Official White House Response to Pardon Marc Emery

Why We Can’t Comment on Marc Emery

Thank you for signing the petition "Pardon Marc Emery." We appreciate your participation in the We the People platform on

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the President the authority to grant "Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States." For more than 100 years, Presidents have relied on the Department of Justice and its Office of the Pardon Attorney for assistance in the exercise of this power. Requests for executive clemency for federal offenses should be directed to the Pardon Attorney, who conducts a review and investigation, and prepares the Department's recommendation to the President. Additional information and application forms are available on the Pardon Attorney's website.

The President takes his constitutional power to grant clemency very seriously, and recommendations from the Department of Justice are carefully considered before decisions are made. The White House does not comment, however, on individual pardon applications. In accordance with this policy and the We the People Terms of Participation–which explain that the White House may sometimes choose not to respond to petitions addressing certain matters—the White House declines to comment on the specific case addressed in this petition.

Tue, 11/22/2011 - 2:43pm Permalink
Wayward Bill C… (not verified)

In reply to by Tony Aroma (not verified)

D own

O n


A blanket compassion amnesty of all Federal, State, and Local "Pot-litical Only" Prisoners, Parolees, Probationers, Court ordered Drug Treatment Patients.  Plus the return of all children taken away from their parents for "Pot-litical Only" offenses would be a nice gestures from the White House and the Department of Justice. The savings on the Drug War, Per annum prisoner, medical, facility, and a myriad of other costs would be an instant cash cow. A cow that could be used for drug education, paying down the national debt, creating jobs lost to the need for less officials running the American Drug War gulags. I could go on but I think I have pointed out the obvious. Time to think out of the box. Time for real change.

Peace, Pot, Politics,

Wayward Bill Chengelis

President, US Marijuana Party 

Thu, 11/24/2011 - 1:16am Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

When the drug war is ended by the people, of the people, and for the people, drug war reparations will be a critical priority.  People who start and lose wars pay for their loss; that’s the way it’s always been.  The question now before us as citizens is what can our loser government do for the winners, the people.

Obama’s present drug war victim pardons are mostly symbolic, which is sort of good since his pardons do deal topically with drugs, but the ceremony and the numbers don’t go far enough.  What’s needed is a blanket pardon of the type Jimmy Carter gave to expats who escaped the Viet Nam fiasco by fleeing a nearly-certain doom of one type or another concocted by the persecutory government of that era.

A blanket pardon for drug charges is the least the United States government can do for its citizens and others it has afflicted that’s within its immediate capacity to perform.


Wed, 11/23/2011 - 2:04am Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by Giordano (not verified)

as he and his administration have clearly shown us time and again over the past three years.  

However, president Ron Paul WILL pardon all non-violent drug war victims, at the same time as he tosses out the CSA, directs his AG that all federal investigations and prosecutions (related to the prohibition of drugs) in progress must immediately cease and desist, and disbands the DEA and ONDCP.

Wed, 11/23/2011 - 3:34am Permalink

Ya let the crakc heads who are proven threats to society out but make the peacefull and no threat to society marijuana users in prison.Thas about the stupidest thing he has done and he's done a lot of em since being in office.It's past time for this country to legalise for adult use..It's time for us to no longer just ask,but rather it is time for us to start demanding.It is ur legal right and they need to all remeber that without us,none of them would be in office incliding the president.We can put them in,but we can also take em out as well.They need to remeber that

Wed, 11/23/2011 - 9:51pm Permalink
government hater (not verified)

These people should not be in jail. It is not the business of the government to tell us what we can or can not do with our body. These idiots we have running this country have turned against us and create laws every day to jail us and take freedom and money from us. It is time to fire congress and if needed the rest of the government by whatever means needed.

Fri, 11/25/2011 - 11:30am Permalink


Sheriff Bobby Grubbs is the top cop in Brownwood, Texas, a small town of some twenty thousand church-going souls smack in the center of the Texas vastness between Abilene and Fort Worth. Brownwood has a big reputation for drug arrests in a state with a bigger reputation for life sentences for even small amounts of marijuana.

So here comes a long-haired Mendocino County kid tooling through 2am Brownwood in a battered old Mercedes station wagon with California plates. It was Chris Diaz, 22, the married father of two children ages 4 and 1. Diaz was immediately pulled over on your basic pretext, as in pretext stop, as in automatic pretext stop of a long-haired kid driving through town in the middle of the night in some kinda hippie wagon with California plates.....

Fri, 11/25/2011 - 2:25pm Permalink
orionsune (not verified)

Only 3 Marijuana offenses pardoned? Try 3,000, then we can talk.

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 7:39pm Permalink

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