Activist and former drug convict applauds Biden’s marijuana pardons

Tallahassee pastor arrested on drug conspiracy charges applauds Biden's pardons on marijuana...
Tallahassee pastor arrested on drug conspiracy charges applauds Biden's pardons on marijuana offenders.(WCTV)
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 4:06 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Tallahassee pastor released from prison in 2008 for his part in a drug conspiracy scandal applauded President Joe Biden’s pardoning of around 6,500 people for federal marijuana possession charges.

Pastor Gregory James was sentenced to life in prison plus 40 years for his role in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack, and marijuana.

From his experience, he said prison opens your eyes, and the president’s pardons give the country a sense that justice and second chances at life are being renewed.

“Not to be caught with drugs but as a part of a conspiracy had a major impact on our community,” James said. “This gives me a sense of knowing that we need to keep fighting to ensure that we bring awareness to some of the penalties that we are having to deal with under these laws.”

Biden also ordered a review of marijuana law, specifically if it should be classified as a Schedule 1 substance - the same as heroin and LSD.

James said there needs to be a conversation with leaders at all levels about the benefits of marijuana over the criminality of the drug.

“The pardons are really a Band-Aid to a major problem when it comes to drug offenses,” James said. “But this gives a sense of hope that we are moving in a direction and realizing that we can’t just allow this offense to send a person away from their family for an extended period of time.”

Though marijuana possession is still a federal crime, 37 states have legalized medical marijuana, and 19 allow it recreationally.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried also applauded the president’s pardons and is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to follow suit in Florida.