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USA: President of the National Institute of Military Justice demands extension of the pardon for cannabis offenses to veterans

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Rachel VanLandingham, president of the National Institute of Military Justice. Photo: DR

the president of National Institute of Military Justice of the United States of America (USA) has asked President Joe Biden not to exclude the military from a pardon for cannabis-related offenses. In an opinion piece published in the newspaper The Hill, former veteran Rachel E. VanLandingham argues that it makes no sense for only civil penalties to be considered.

President Joe Biden recently announced pardon the thousands of federal cannabis-related offenses and convictions. While it is true that this measure was widely applauded by the general population, there are those who still have something to add, as they are unhappy with the limited scope of the measure.

“President Biden overlooked one group of citizens when he recently pardoned thousands of federal marijuana possession convictions: those convicted while serving in the US military,” warns Rachel E. VanLandingham, professor of law at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, Lt. -Retired Colonel of the US Air Force and current President of the National Institute of Military Justice.

Error must be “fixed immediately”
The professor and former Air Force veteran says the measure did not take into account one group of citizens: those who were convicted while serving in the US military. Although the presidential proclamation deals with federal, not state, convictions, it only expressly condones convictions under civil federal criminal laws, and does not include those convicted under military penal laws.

According to the opinion piece published in The Hill, the president of the National Institute of Military Justice argues that the proclamation specifically cites the Federal Controlled Substances Act and the statutory criminal provisions of the District of Columbia, not mentioning the military penal code, found in Title 10 of the US Code, under which military personnel are court-martialled and convicted of similar drug offenses.

The teacher reiterates that this error “must be corrected immediately”, as it makes no sense that a “veteran – who was submitted to the military court and discharged from the armed forces due to cannabis possession – cannot benefit from the same pardon granted to civilians”.

In the requirements, the author of the text explains that this forgiveness must extend to the simple possession of cannabis — similar to the way alcohol is treated within the military, which is through disability in service that causes significant harm, not in the Responsible private use during off hours by persons of legal age.

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