During a brief press availability last Saturday, July 16, President Biden shouted a few answers to reporters upon his return to the White House aboard Marine One.

A reporter asked him, among other questions, if he would be honoring his campaign pledge to release all marijuana prisoners in federal facilities. (Biden has the power to commute or pardon prisoners in the federal prison system, but not in state prisons.)

His answer: “I don’t think anyone should be in prison for the use of marijuana. We’re working on the Crime Bill now.”

Biden’s answer was…puzzling.

As President, Biden has the power to commute or pardon pretty much anyone for pretty much any crime or sentence within the federal justice system. He doesn’t need a crime bill. He doesn’t need a single vote in Congress to do it. All he needs is a pen to sign the decree.

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Here’s the official transcript released by the White House:

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT BIDEN AFTER MARINE ONE ARRIVAL

South Lawn (July 16, 2022)

Q: Is the Saudi foreign minister lying, President Biden? The Saudi foreign minister says he didn’t hear you accuse the Crown Prince of Khashoggi’s murder. Is he telling the truth?

THE PRESIDENT: No.

Q: Do you regret the fist bump, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Why don’t you guys talk about something that matters? I’m happy to answer a question that matters.

Q: Will inflation go down from here, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m hoping. We’ll know in the next few weeks.

Q: President Biden, will you be honoring your campaign pledge to release all the marijuana inmates in prison?

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think there should—I don’t think anyone in pri- -anyone should be in prison for the use of marijuana. We’re working on the Crime Bill now. Thank you.

END

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Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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