Experts weigh in on why Texas won't see impact in accordance with Biden's pardon announcement

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Saturday, October 8, 2022
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There were 300,000 marijuana-related arrests last year in the state of Texas, but the pardon applies to about 6,500 people, a legal expert explained.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- President Joe Biden is planning to pardon thousands of Americans convicted of simple possession of marijuana, but Texas will not see much of an impact.

The owners of Oilwell Cannabis are preparing to debut their latest idea: A vending machine that will be filled with legal cannabidiol, or CBD, products.

The shop owner, Collin Valencia, has previously faced charges for marijuana possession. "You face challenges with housing, loans, and banking, I mean with about everything," Valencia said.

Soon, select others won't face those challenges after the president's announcement. "I would love to see people not get hurt for this anymore," Valencia said.

RELATED:Biden pardons thousands convicted for 'simple possession' of marijuana

The pardon doesn't impact Valencia. As legal expert Steve Shellist explains, this will only apply to certain federal convictions.

"If someone is currently stripped of rights via a state prosecution or a state conviction, they're going to get no relief from this," Shellist explained. He said a pardon allows people to carry a gun or avoid deportation.

"It reinstates rights that were stripped away, but it does not remove it from their record," Shellist said. The pardon applies to about 6,500 people.

Experts at Rice University said that there were 300,000 marijuana-related arrests at the state level last year. President Biden urged governors to do the same with state charges.

A spokesperson for Governor Greg Abbott sent ABC13 a statement that read:

"Texas is not in the habit of taking criminal justice advice from the leader of the defund police party and someone who has overseen a criminal justice system run amuck with cashless bail and a revolving door for violent criminals."

On social media, Abbott's opponent Beto O'Rourke said, "When I'm governor, we will finally legalize marijuana in Texas and expunge the records of those arrested for marijuana possession."

Rice University political science professor Mark Jones said it wouldn't be so easy.

"Governors do not have the power to pass legislation unilaterally," Jones explained. "It has to go through the Texas Legislature, and the Texas legislature for at least the next two or four years is going to have a Republican majority."

Don't expect to see marijuana legalization in the upcoming session. However, it doesn't mean the matter won't be discussed.

"The most we'll see in 2023 is decriminalizing marijuana and medical marijuana. We're not going to see legalization," Jones said. "That's for sure."

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