UPDATE: Justice Department Finally Announces Application Form for Marijuana Pardon Certificates

The Department of Justice has finally made available the application form to apply to receive a pardon for federal marijuana possession convictions. The DOJ announced on March 2, 2023

"The online application will be available on the Office of the Pardon Attorney’s website: Application for Certificate of Pardon. The web form allows eligible persons to submit documentation to the Office of the Pardon Attorney and receive a certificate indicating the person was pardoned on Oct. 6, 2022, for simple possession of marijuana. 

"The President’s pardon, effective Oct. 6, 2022, may assist pardoned persons by removing civil or legal disabilities — such as restrictions on the right to vote, to hold office or to sit on a jury — that are imposed because of the pardoned conviction. The application released today may also be helpful as proof of pardon for those who seek to obtain licenses, bonding or employment." Form: Certificate of Pardon for the Offense of Simple Possession of Marijuana on or before October 6, 2022

Thousands Receive Pardon For Federal Marijuana Possession Convictions

On October 6, 2022, the White House issued a blanket pardon to people who had received a federal conviction for simple possession of marijuana. According to the proclamation signed by President Joseph Biden:

"Acting pursuant to the grant of authority in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution of the United States, I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., do hereby grant a full, complete, and unconditional pardon to (1) all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who committed the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, as currently codified at 21 U.S.C. 844 and as previously codified elsewhere in the United States Code, or in violation of D.C. Code 48–904.01(d)(1), on or before the date of this proclamation, regardless of whether they have been charged with or prosecuted for this offense on or before the date of this proclamation; and (2) all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been convicted of the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, as currently codified at 21 U.S.C. 844 and as previously codified elsewhere in the United States Code, or in violation of D.C. Code 48–904.01(d)(1); which pardon shall restore to them full political, civil, and other rights."

The President's clemency powers extend only to federal convictions. In a statement accompanying the pardon proclamation, the President urged states to follow suit:

"Second, I am urging all Governors to do the same with regard to state offenses. Just as no one should be in a Federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either."


"Third, I am asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law."

The President's statement concludes that "Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs."

San Francisco Plans To Move Forward With Supervised Consumption Site In Spite Of Governor's Veto

Officials with the city of San Francisco have announced that they plan to move forward with establishing a supervised consumption site for people who use drugs in spite of the veto by Governor Gavin Newsom of Senate Bill 57, which would have granted permission to a few select municipalities to establish an overdose prevention center as a limited-time pilot project.

The New York Times reported on August 22, 2022 that "Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation on Monday that would have allowed some California cities to open supervised drug-injection sites as part of a pilot program meant to stem a rushing tide of fatal overdoses."

According to the Times:

"Supporters of the measure, including local elected officials, said that the synthetic opioid fentanyl was driving the worst overdose crisis in American history, one that has become closely entwined with California’s catastrophic housing emergency. They said the bill offered Mr. Newsom a chance to save thousands of lives while also saving taxpayers the cost of many ambulance rides and emergency room visits.

"The bill would have allowed the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland, as well as Los Angeles County, to set up supervised injection facilities in communities that were already struggling with open drug use and frequent overdoses. At the centers, drug users would be offered supplies like clean needles, and could be connected with treatment services."

The San Francisco Standard reported on August 22, 2022 that:

"San Francisco plans to move forward in allowing a non-profit to open up a safe consumption site despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s veto of a bill, Senate Bill 57, that would have legalized the sites at the state level.

"City Attorney David Chiu indicated in a statement to The Standard that the city plans to back a local non-profit in opening a safe consumption site, which are banned federally under the Controlled Substances Act."

The Standard also reported that "Mayor London Breed echoed those sentiments in a statement, writing that 'we know implementing overdose prevention programs is a key step in our efforts to help people struggling with addiction.'"

For more information see Drug Policy Facts: Supervised Consumption Sites.

International Overdose Awareness Day is August 31

According to The Penington Institute, "International Overdose Awareness Day was initiated in 2001 by Sally J Finn at The Salvation Army in St Kilda, Melbourne."

"International Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind." People around the world hold in-person and virtual events every year on August 31.

BioMed Central has an information resource about International Overdose Awareness Day that may be of interest.

Several IOAD events are listed at The Penington Institute website.

A number of IOAD events are listed at the Moms Stop The Harm website.

Some other #IOAD2022 event lists and/or announcements:

Overdose Awareness Day Memorial in Portland, Oregon, sponsored by Outside In.

Drug User Liberation Front

Canadian Drug Policy Coalition

VOCAL New York

#IOAD #IOAD2022 #EndOverdose

New York City Opens First Legally Authorized Safe Consumption Sites In US

On November 30, 2021, the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York announced that "the first publicly recognized Overdose Prevention Center (OPC) services in the nation have commenced in New York City. OPCs are an extension of existing harm reduction services and will be co-located with previously established syringe service providers."

According to the release:
"OPCs, also referred to as supervised consumption sites or facilities, are safe places where people who use drugs can receive medical care and be connected to treatment and social services. OPC services are proven to prevent overdose deaths, and are in use in jurisdictions around the world. There has never been an overdose death in any OPC. A Health Department feasibility study found that OPCs in New York City would save up to 130 lives a year.

"Additionally, OPCs are a benefit to their surrounding communities, reducing public drug use and syringe litter. Other places with OPCs have not seen an increase in crime, even over many years.

"OPCs will be in communities based on health need and depth of program experience. A host of City agencies will run joint operations focused on addressing street conditions across the City, and we will include an increased focus on the areas surrounding the OPCs as they open."

Vancouver's Chief Medical Officer Endorses Compassion Clubs and Safe Supply

Efforts in Vancouver, BC to establish a peer-led compassion club for procuring and distributing a safe supply of drugs have gained the support of Vancouver's chief medical officer. The Tyee reported on October 21, 2021:

"Vancouver’s chief medical health officer says she fully supports an attempt to establish a compassion club model to provide tested heroin, cocaine and meth to users as tainted street drugs continue to kill around six people a day in British Columbia.

"Dr. Patricia Daly made the comments during an update on the poisoned drugs crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic to Vancouver city council today.

"While prescribed safe supply programs are in place for some drug users who are at the greatest risk of dying from an overdose, 'we cannot prescribe our way out of the overdose crisis,' she said.

"Last week, Vancouver’s mayor and councillors voted to support an application for an exemption from Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that would let a group called the Drug User Liberation Front procure and distribute tested drugs."

Earlier in October, the Vancouver City Council officially endorsed DULF's efforts to set up a compassion club. The Vancouver Sun reported on October 7, 2021:

"The City of Vancouver voted unanimously in favour of supporting a peer-led program that would help get a safe supply of drugs to individuals at high risk of overdose in the Downtown Eastside.

"Coun. Jean Swanson called for the approval of North America’s first compassion club that gives members access to prescription heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, in a council motion this week."

Drug User Liberation Front

Moms Stop The Harm

Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs

Reform Advances In Canada

The Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPUD) is suing the government of Canada to decriminalize drug possession and casual transfer.

CAPUD is joined in this effort by the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Moms Stop the Harm, and the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society.

The city of Vancouver has requested permission to decriminalize drug possession within Vancouver.

Similar efforts are being mounted in Toronto, Ontario, as well as the cities of Saskatoon and Regina in Saskatchewan.

The Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) in British Columbia is seeking permission from the Canadian government to establish a safe drug supply service modeled on the early cannabis buyers' clubs.

The Vancouver City Council recently voted to endorse DULF's request.

Vancouver already tried to set up its safe supply program however some argue that it's limited and much too difficult for many people to access.

Rest In Power: Kevin B. Zeese, 1955-2020

We are sad to report that the co-founder and President of Common Sense for Drug Policy, Kevin B. Zeese, passed away on September Fifth, 2020. He is sorely missed.

Kevin was one of the nation's foremost authorities on drug policy issues. He worked on a wide array of drug related issues since he graduated from George Washington University Law School in 1980.

Kevin wrote for newspapers and journals on a range of drug issues, including an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the Colombian drug war. He also appeared on every major television network as a commentator. He served as a consultant to Walter Cronkite for the Discovery Channel special: The Drug Dilemma: War or Peace? He spoke at nationally recognized legal seminars and testified before Congress on drug related issues.

A Feb. 2005 interview with Kevin on the syndicated radio program Cultural Baggage is available. In April 2002, Kevin debated DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson at a conference hosted by Rice University's James Baker Institute. Segments of the forum, "Moving Beyond the 'War on Drugs'," including the Zeese-Hutchinson debate, are available as streaming video. A listing of articles in which Kevin appears is available by clicking here.

He was the author of Drug Testing Legal Manual, Drug Testing Legal Manual and Practice Aids and co-author of Drug Law: Strategies and Tactics, all published by Clark Boardman Callaghan. Kevin served as editor of Drug Law Report for Clark Boardman Callaghan from 1983 to 1998. In addition, he was the author of Drug Prohibition and the Conscience of Nations. Mr. Zeese was the editor of Friedman and Szasz On Liberty and Drugs and edited numerous books on drug policy and manuals on criminal defense.

Kevin Zeese litigated a variety of drug policy-related issues. Among these are the medical use of marijuana, the use of the military and national guard in domestic drug enforcement, the spraying of herbicides in the United States and abroad on marijuana, drug testing of government workers and the right to privacy as it relates to marijuana in the home. He had been a legal advisor to needle exchange workers prosecuted for their anti-AIDS efforts, buyer's clubs who distribute marijuana to the seriously ill, and medical marijuana patients prosecuted for the medical use of marijuana.

Kevin facilitated the Alliance of Reform Organizations, a network of all the major reform organizations in the United States. He served on the Executive Committee of the Harm Reduction Coalition. He served on the Board of Directors of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas and was a Board member emeritus of the DrugSense.

He was a co-founder of the Drug Policy Foundation (now renamed the Drug Policy Alliance), where he served as Vice President and Counsel, and is a former Executive Director and Chief Counsel of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Zeese served on Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's Mayor's Working Group on Drug Policy Reform and served on San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan's Harm Reduction Council. Both were efforts to implement a model urban drug policy. Zeese was also involved with advocacy related to the fatal shooting of Esequiel Hernandez, the legal rights of patients, doctors and their caregivers in California, and the UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs (the UNGASS).

In 2000, Kevin Zeese was the recipient of the Richard J. Dennis DrugPeace Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform from the Drug Policy Foundation at its 13th Annual International Conference on Drug Policy Reform.