As more U.S. states legalize marijuana, many Americans are still incarcerated for offenses related to the drug — but 12 of them received last-minute pardons or sentence commutations from President Donald Trump early Wednesday morning.
The clemency for the marijuana offenders came amid a wave of Inauguration Day pardons and commutations, including many with close ties to the president such as his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Stephen Bannon, a former aide who played a role in Trump’s 2016 victory.
Under the president’s clemency power, he can grant reprieves, pardons, amnesties, remissions, and commutations for federal crimes, though he has no clemency power over state level convictions.
The defendants, some of whom were serving life sentences, mostly had their sentences commuted rather than receiving full pardons — meaning their sentences were ended or reduced while their conviction still stands. Some of them came from states where marijuana is legal.
One person who did receive a full pardon is Lynn Barney of Utah, who had already been released from prison after serving 35 months for possessing a firearm, after a prior conviction for distributing marijuana. The White House described him as a “model citizen” devoted to his work and children. [Read more at Yahoo! Finance]