Biden Finally Acknowledges His Lies Concerning Expungement of Federal Cannabis Convictions

Biden Finally Acknowledges His Lies Concerning Expungement of Federal Cannabis Convictions

While his widely covered and highly celebrated pardons were largely symbolic, the President's numerous claims that those pardons also included expungements are finally being exposed as false.


Once again, voters find themselves in that paradoxical period of American politics, where presidential candidates crisscross the nation, often on the taxpayer's dime, shamelessly promoting their records and making audacious claims to secure enough votes for the coveted prize of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


While former President Trump is reeling over his recent conviction on 34 felony counts, President Biden was in Philadelphia this week, speaking before voters in the lead-up to his first scheduled debate with the first former President ever convicted of a crime.


With Israel continuing to defy the International Court's ruling that it must cease the bombardment of civilians in Gaza and the war in Ukraine intensifying as well, Biden took to the campaign trail to celebrate his popular stance on marijuana rescheduling and his federal pardons of past cannabis crimes.


However, one unexpected admission from the campaign rally was the President's acknowledgment of his past misstatements regarding expunging those federal conviction records.


According to numerous local and national media outlets, during his speech on Wednesday, Biden reluctantly backtracked on his previous claims on multiple occasions that his act of pardoning thousands of simple cannabis possession offenses also included an expungement of those criminal records.  


In the past, and most recently during his last State of the Union Address, the President has loudly and proudly asserted that a mass purge of those offenses also accompanied his act of pardoning past convictions.


As part of his presentation before an audience comprised predominantly of African American voters, the President said, "I'm keeping my promises that no one should be in jail merely for using or possessing marijuana. I pardoned thousands of people incarcerated for the mere possession of marijuana—thousands. A promise made and a promise kept. And their records should be expunged as well, I might add," he said.


"I'm keeping my promises that no one should be in jail merely for using or possessing marijuana. I pardoned thousands of people incarcerated for the mere possession of marijuana—thousands. A promise made and a promise kept. And their records should be expunged as well, I might add."

- U.S. President Joe Biden


That last sentence is the crucial admission on the part of the President, who numerous cannabis reform groups and stakeholders have called out for talking a lot about pardons and very little about the end to federal prohibition – the real change a majority of Americans support as seen through poll after poll on the issue of marijuana legalization.


His previous intentionally false statements concerning expungement led many convicted cannabis offenders to believe their past crimes would no longer haunt them as they tried to secure employment, housing, and other basic needs, activities often severely hampered by those past offenses. 


However, as the Office of the Pardon Attorney explained, an expungement is a "judicial remedy that is rarely granted by the court and cannot be granted within the Department of Justice or by the President."


Likewise, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) detailed in a November 2022 report that "the pardon may not remove all legal consequences of marijuana possession because it does not expunge convictions. Moreover, some collateral consequences of marijuana-related activities do not depend on a person being charged with or convicted of a [Controlled Substances Act] violation."


"The pardon may not remove all legal consequences of marijuana possession because it does not expunge convictions. Moreover, some collateral consequences of marijuana-related activities do not depend on a person being charged with or convicted of a [Controlled Substances Act] violation."

- Report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS)


Though barely mentioned by the mainstream media due to the wall-to-wall coverage of former President Trump's criminal conviction in New York on Thursday, Biden's entire record, including the truth on his overall stance on cannabis legalization, will be under much more intense scrutiny as Election Day nears. 


While much more polarizing and emotional issues, like the wars in Gaza and Ukraine, the border crisis, and the economy, should dominate debate topics over the next several months, the issue of marijuana's legal status at the federal level could become an essential factor in who ultimately wins, particularly among the unpredictable and restless younger voters, who already have a dim view of Biden over the ongoing catastrophe in Palestine.


Admitting he intentionally lied about expungement, while a necessary and appropriate correction, further highlights Biden's lack of consistency in being honest and transparent on critical domestic issues. It remains to be seen if his plethora of transgressions will haunt him in November. After all, breaking the law and being convicted apparently does not disqualify a presidential candidate. It appears to aid in the pursuit.