Local marijuana advocates say more offenses need to be pardoned | Turn 420
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Local marijuana advocates say more offenses need to be pardoned



TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It was a casual Sunday for Michelle Ochoa at Harambe Cafe in Tucson. She was listening to a live jazz band and was enjoying spending time with her partner.

The cafe allows customers to consume marijuana, and in the back of Ochoa’s mind, she was thinking about the state charge she got for possession, sale and transport of marijuana back in 2017.

It was an experience that left her sad and distraught, Ochoa not able to apply for home loans because her credit score was so low.

Ever since then Ochoa has not consumed marijuana and just last year, those charges were expunged.

“It was a fresh breath off of my shoulders,” Ochoa said.

Earlier in the week, President Biden pardoned people with federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana.

The White House estimated that it would allow at least 6,500 people to be pardoned.

Ochoa said it’s a start, but it’s not enough. She said more charges need to be pardoned so people can succeed in life.

“I know there’s people that have struggled from getting employment opportunities, other housing opportunities, and I think that’s going to help a lot,” she said.

Kelly Davis, the director of Southern Arizona Norml, a marijuana advocacy group, said some people are paying a high price for low-level marijuana charges. She said misdemeanors for marijuana should also be pardoned.

“They make people pay far more than they should….it just doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t do any good for our society,” Davis said.

White House officials said no one is currently in federal prison solely for simple marijuana possession.

Lynze Rhym is the brand ambassador for Greenmed Wellness Center and supports the nationwide legalization of marijuana. She said Biden’s pardon could be a step towards nationwide decriminalization.

“Anything that is done at the higher level naturally has to trickle down and there will be change there,” Rhym said.

Biden said limitations on trafficking, marketing, and under-age sales of marijuana should stay in place.

People who have state offenses are not being pardoned by Biden, but Biden is encouraging governors to do the same.

Ochoa said she’s advocating for bigger change and is hoping to advocate for cannabis research and programs in Washington D.C.

“I don’t think anybody should have something on their record for something that was in the past that was so long ago. It shouldn’t define their record or who they are,” Ochoa said.



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