Published March 2, 2023
By Tom Angell
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The White House is reviewing a draft application form that people who were covered under President Joe Biden’s mass marijuana pardon can fill out to demonstrate that they were granted clemency.
In October, Biden issued a proclamation granting a pardon to people who have committed cannabis possession offenses under federal law and in Washington, D.C. The relief was automatic, but advocates have pushed officials to provide an application that people can use to obtain certificates showing they are covered. That could be useful for those whose prior convictions are preventing them from obtaining jobs or housing, for example.
A notice set to be published in the Federal Register on Friday from the Office of the Pardon Attorney, under the Department of Justice, describes the new form and the information it requests from applicants:
“The application asks applicants to confirm that the petitioner is U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who was lawfully in the country at the time the marijuana offense occurred; the alien registration or citizenship number of a lawful permanent resident or naturalized citizen applicant; information regarding the specific court in which the applicant was charged or convicted and the date of said conviction, if any; information regarding the applicant’s race, gender, and ethnicity; identifying information regarding the applicant’s date and place of birth; and documentation of the applicant’s charge or convictions.”
In addition to being used to process pardon certificates, “the information may also be used to provide statistical analysis of the demographics of pardon recipients and applicants,” the notice says.
Pardon Attorney Elizabeth Oyer said in December that the online application would be posted “very soon,” but as the months have gone on, activists have expressed frustration about the delay.
Biden’s pardon proclamation was fairly limited in scope, as it did not free anyone who is currently incarcerated and excludes people who were convicted of selling cannabis, among other groups that advocates would like to see get relief.
The Pardon Attorney’s office says it estimates that “at least 20,000 applicants may apply” for certificates using the new form once it receives final approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget.
“The application for the certificate is simple, and will not take long to complete, between 10 and 30 minutes,” the new notice says. “The applicants must also provide proof of their prior convictions or charges, which we estimate would take anywhere between 10 minutes to two hours of effort, including research, phone calls, and conversations with necessary personnel to attain the appropriate documentation.”
“Therefore, the Pardon Attorney estimates that it would take approximately 20 minutes, but likely no longer than 2.5 hours per individual to provide the information necessary for the collection,” the filing states.
Public comments will be accepted on the draft for a period of 30 days.