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Congressional Progressive Caucus Calls for Quick Legal Weed, Trump Pardons Weldon Angelos, More... (12/23/20)

Idaho activists are already eyeing 2022, President Trump and Michigan Governor Whitmer pardon drug offenders, and more.

Former marijuana prisoner Weldon Angelos, who was pardoned by President Trump on Tuesday. (FAMM.org)
Marijuana Policy

Congressional Progressive Caucus Calls for Marijuana Legalization in First Six Months of 2021. In its platform, unveiled Monday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus called for marijuana to be legalized in the first half of next year. The call for legalization, as well as other criminal justice reforms, comes as part of the platform's racial justice plank. Congress must "reduce criminalization and incarceration through sentencing reform, legalizing cannabis, expunging records, and providing restorative justice" in order to address racial inequities, the platform says.

Idaho Activists Eye Marijuana Legalization as Well as Medical Marijuana in 2022. State activists are preparing a twofer for 2022, preparing to try to place marijuana legalization as well as medical marijuana on the ballot then. The campaign for the newly proposed Idaho Marijuana Legalization Act will be led by veteran activist Russ Belville, who was the campaign spokesman for the medical marijuana effort that was abandoned this year because of complications from social distancing measures necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sentencing Policy

President Trump Pardons Drug Sentencing Poster Boy. It wasn't just war criminals and felonious political flunkies that the president pardoned Tuesday. Among the 15 people getting presidential pardons was Weldon Angelos, who became a cause celebré when he was sentenced in 2004 to 55 years in prison for selling marijuana. He got the extreme sentence because he carried a pistol in an ankle holster during some of his weed transactions. Even the judge who sentenced him pleaded for a sentence commutation. Angelos was released from prison in 2016 after serving 13 years. Angelos has been a criminal justice reform advocate since his release. "His story has been cited as an inspiration for sentencing reform, including the First Step Act, and he participated in a Prison Reform Summit at the White House in 2018," White House staff wrote in announcing the pardon. "In his own words, Mr. Angelos wants 'to become whole again and put the bad choices in the past and continue changing the world for the better.'"

Michigan Governor Commutes Sentences for Four, Including Three Drug Offenders. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has commuted the sentences of four men imprisoned for decades, including three drug offenders. Lawrence Cadroy had been serving a life sentence for drug possession since 1999, Lorenzo Garret had been serving a sentence of between 29 and 170 years for drug dealing since 1999, and Larry McGhee had been serving a 20 to 30-year sentence for drug dealing since 2004. "As a former prosecutor, I recognize how critical it is to take steps toward a smarter and more equitable justice system," Whitmer said. "Over the last two years, we’ve worked with leaders on both sides of the aisle to make tremendous progress to give people a second chance, from reforming civil asset forfeiture to becoming a national leader on expungement."

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