How a national pardon for small marijuana crimes affects Arkansas inmates

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:03 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A proposal from the nation’s leader is set to have an impact on crime across the country, and Arkansas law enforcement is taking notice.

On Thursday, Oct. 6, President Joe Biden took the first major step towards decriminalizing marijuana by pardoning all federal offenses of simple marijuana possession.

Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd said the pardons will have an effect on those people who have been busted for marijuana recently.

“We do know that it could, in the justice system talk about some of the cases that were recently arrested,” he said. “What it is going to do on that level will have implications that come down to us.”

The announcement pardons all federal offenses of simple possession, as well as urging governors to do the same for state-level offenses and begin the process to review and classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug.

Boyd said the number of simple possession charges in Craighead County has seen a sharp decline.

“At the Craighead County Sheriff’s Office, simple marijuana arrests, there are not that many,” he said. “You know, 10 years ago, it was a lot more.”

Boyd credits the decline to the legalization of medical marijuana, adding it has changed how his officers determine if a search is needed

“With that being legal on the medical side and having a card it took out a lot of the probable cause for officers to stop somebody and arrest,” he said.

Loosening federal rules on marijuana has gained traction in recent years, as the drug has been legalized in a number of states, and voters in Arkansas will make their decision on medical marijuana in the upcoming November ballot.