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U.S. cannabis pardon certificates in as little as 10 minutes?

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Planned application process aims to get the ball rolling on providing certificates for those who want paper proof of pardon

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The U.S. Department of Justice is looking to speed up the pardons process by soon launching a way to apply that should take only about 10 minutes.

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According to Marijuana Moment, pardon Attorney Elizabeth Oyer said this week during a panel discussion hosted by Last Prisoner Project — which works to free “the tens of thousands of individuals still unjustly imprisoned for cannabis” — the plan is in the works to soon provide applicants with a speedier means of obtaining certificates for presidential marijuana pardons.

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In early October, President Joe Biden announced he would pardon individuals convicted of simple cannabis possession in breach of the Controlled Substances Act. In a Presidential proclamation, Biden declared “a full, complete, and unconditional pardon to all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents,” which was estimated at the time would affect about 6,000 people.

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The announcement attracted plenty of praise, including from celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel and Chelsea Handler, but also drew criticism for its narrowness and how it would not have an affect those currently serving time.

“As far as bold acts of mass clemency go, it won’t lead to many people getting out of prison. In fact, it will lead to none,” per the Marshall Project, a non-profit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system. “According to the White House and a report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, there is no one currently in federal custody for simple possession of marijuana.”

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Immigration advocates further argued pardons should be granted to undocumented immigrants who were incarcerated and deported after spending most of their lives working and living in the U.S., according to ABC News.

Biden noted in the proclamation, however, that the federal pardons would not apply to those who were non-citizens at the time of the offence or to any other offences related to cannabis or other controlled substances.

The president also encouraged governors to also offer pardons for state-level offences. PEW Trusts reported in late October that the governor response to that call has been mixed.

Asked by Marijuana Moment about the timing of the clemency certification process and how it would work, Oyer reportedly responded that the Office of the Pardon Attorney is “working on developing a very simple and very streamlined process for applications.”

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She could not provide specifics on when the applications, expected to be available both online and through the mail, would open, but added it would be “very soon,” the publication reports.

The hope is to launch a web-based submission platform that allows individuals to “simply fill in their information online, click a button, submit the application and it’s done,” with the final application summary information fitting on one page.

Oyer pointed out that despite the process for issuing certificates, one is not needed since “you don’t need any further evidence or any action to be taken to effectuate the terms of the pardon” beyond Biden’s proclamation in October.

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