New York Post spotlights 420 – asks CAN-DO for quotes from cannabis clemency candidates, Ismael Lira and Pedro Moreno

Ismael Lira and Pedro Moreno provided quotes to Steven Nelson regarding their hope for clemency under a Biden administration.

On 4/20, pot prisoners ask Biden to honor campaign pledge and free them

By Steven Nelson

People imprisoned for marijuana are asking President Joe Biden to release them.

Ismael Lira, 43, and Pedro Moreno, 61, are among the federal inmates still held with life sentences for pot. They both were convicted of distributing marijuana imported from Mexico.

“I believe President Biden truly sees the harm caused to the community of color, and I also believe President Biden will keep his promise to free all pot prisoners,” Lira said in an email from prison.

The High Desert Detention Center, a San Bernardino County Jail Facility
Lira received the harsh penalty because he chose to go to trial rather than plead guilty — allowing prosecutors to apply the full force of a 1970 “kingpin” statute.

“It’s not okay to punish someone so cruelly for exercising their Sixth Amendment right to trial,” Lira told The Post.

Moreno, who did plead guilty, was harshly punished in part because he allegedly encouraged a co-defendant to flee to Mexico. He and four of his brothers were sentenced to life in prison in 2001 for smuggling pot from 1986 to 1996. His brothers were freed in 2017 by President Barack Obama.

“I am a first offender who has served a quarter of a century and pray President Biden will have mercy on me and my family,” Moreno said in a message relayed by his daughter.

“All I want is to reunite with my children and my grandkids so we can become whole and put my past mistakes to bed. April is second chance month. I pray President Biden will consider me worthy of a second chance so my family can celebrate all the milestones we have missed over the years. I’m truly remorseful for my crime and pledge to devote my life to making up for the past. I promise I won’t need a third chance.”

April 20 has become an unofficial holiday for marijuana enthusiasts — reportedly derived from 4:20, a code used by some California high schoolers in the 1970s for the time of day they would get together to smoke weed.

The pleas for clemency come as marijuana legalization reaches a tipping point, including with recent state-level legalization in New York, Virginia and New Mexico.

On April 20, activists in New York and DC plan to openly give away celebratory jointsto people who got COVID-19 vaccine shots. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is preparing to unveil a federal pot legalization bill.

A recent poll by Quinnipiac University found 69 percent of the public supports marijuana legalization — with 62 percent of Republicans in favor — and the policy has been embraced in either referendums or statehouses in 18 states plus DC. The Justice Department allows state-legal businesses to operate, even though marijuana possession remains a federal crime.

Amy Povah, a prominent advocate and founder of the CAN-DO Foundation, which advocates for clemency, said that “it’s time to free all pot prisoners and put this chapter of prohibition in the rearview mirror.”

“It’s time to end the hypocrisy that allows some to rake in millions while others languish in prison even during a historic pandemic,” Povah said.

“Given that both President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took strong positions on the campaign trail to free the pot prisoners, decriminalize cannabis and expunge the records of those with cannabis convictions, we are anxiously awaiting to hear whether that will come about,” Povah said.

Read the entire story on New York Post


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