Saturday, August 06, 2022

Quote of the Day

President Biden is a hypocrite when speaking about how “unjust” it is that Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison for smuggling a cannabis vape capsule.

“It’s unacceptable and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” Biden wrote in a statement.

If he feels so strongly about how “unacceptable” it is, then why doesn’t he pardon the 40,000 people (mostly black and Latino) incarcerated in American prisons for possession of pot?

America can jail minorities for pot possession, but if Russia jails an American for the very same exact charge, it’s “unacceptable.” Biden doesn’t care one bit about the “justness” of the law, it is only unacceptable to him because it is Russia.

No standards. Hypocrisy on full display.

Guess what, Biden? 40,000 Americans incarcerated for non-violent cannabis possession is pretty damned “unacceptable” too, and the president, more than anybody, has the power to right that injustice.

But let’s just moan about Russia instead.

Benjamin Meiklejohn
via Facebook
August 6, 2022

Related Off-site Links:
WNBA Star Brittney Griner Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison by Russian Court – Amanda Macias (CNBC News, August 5, 2022).
Vice President Kamala Harris Labeled Hypocrite for Condemning Brittney Griner’s Jail Term – Snejana Farberov (New York Post, August 5, 2022).
Tulsi Gabbard Blasts Kamala Harris’ “Hypocrisy” for Brittney Griner Response After Marijuana Lockups as California Attorney General – Andrew Mark Miller (Fox News, August 6, 2022).
Advocates Demand Biden Take Marijuana Action After Brittney Griner Sentenced to Nine Years In Russian Prison for Vapes – Kyle Jaeger (, August 5, 2022).
Hypocrisy Abounds Surrounding Griner’s Drug Arrest – Anthony Cristo (Seguin Gazette, July 27, 2022).
Russia’s Imprisonment of Britney Griner Has Some Unfortunate American Parallels – Emma Camp (Reason, July 22, 2022).

Image: U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner stands in a defendants’ cage before a court hearing during her trial on charges of drug smuggling, in Khimki, outside Moscow on August 2, 2022. (Photo: Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/AFP)


Percy said...

A reminder: a US president's pardon power only extends to federal crimes, not state/municipal crimes & offenses. Before people developing talking points hurl that 40K number around, they should investigate the actual number of people serving time in federal prisons solely for federal criminal possession of cannabis.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi, Percy! Thanks for your comment. I'm thinking there must be something President Biden could do. After all, according to this article, he promised when on the campaign trail to take meaningful steps to decriminalize marijuana or broadly free cannabis prisoners. At the very least, suggests Justin Strekal, founder of the BOWL PAC, as Biden continues to declare Griner wrongfully detained, he should "take steps to uncouple the fact both the U.S. and Russia incarcerate Americans for cannabis possession."

As to your second point, as far as I can gather that 400,000 number comes from the Sentencing Project. Specifically, they say that "over 400,000 Americans remain detained in U.S. jails on drug-related charges in 2019." Like you, I would like to know how many of these people are imprisoned solely for criminal possession of cannabis. To date, I've been unable to ascertain this number.



Percy said...

Thank you for replying. "Drug-related charges" covers a much vaster ground than simple, nonviolent possession, and it of course doesn't distinguish between state/municipal jails where such convictions for such overwhelming tend to be dealt with (one wonders how much time a U.S. Attorney staff has for prosecutions of a person solely arrested for that under federal law).

Using numbers that catch the eye or ear but that don't very closely tie to the action being petitioned is a great way to ... make the problem worse. This is a serious problem in the USA: people inflating claims to catch attention. There is one thing worse than not getting attention; it's getting attention by inflating a claim and then the discrepancy being revealed.

The problem is not *symmetrical* as between reactionaries and radicals. Reactionaries appeal to far more atavistic fears than radicals ... and thus can more readily get away with this kind of thing, while radicals tend to get in their own way by doing it. "They can do it. Why can't we?" The reason is it's not symmetrical and has shown no signs of becoming such (if anything, the asymmetry is getting worse.)