Idaho Gov. Brad Little criticizes Biden’s pardons for federal offenses for marijuana possession

Stephen Heidt, Little’s Democratic opponent in Nov. 8 general election, says he welcomed the president’s announcement

By: - October 7, 2022 3:47 pm
Idaho governor Brad Little

Idaho Gov. Brad Little gives a speech during the Idaho Republican Party primary celebration on May 17, 2022. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Idaho Gov. Brad Little criticized President Joe Biden’s decision to pardon thousands of people who have federal offenses for simple marijuana possession. 

In Thursday’s announcement of executive actions, Biden also called on the country’s governors to follow his example and issue pardons for state offenses for simple marijuana possession.

Little issued a written statement Friday.

“Open borders and open prisons – welcome to Biden’s America,” Little wrote. “He wants to let people out of jail for drug offenses while he keeps the border open, allowing drug traffickers to pour into our country unchecked.”

“It is clear President Biden issued this blanket pardon for show, setting a bad precedent when cases should be reviewed on their individual merits,” Little added. “But what’s not clear is whether Biden really understands that individuals incarcerated for possession of small amounts of marijuana almost always have accompanying offenses, making his blanket pardon basically pointless.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Heidt, the Democratic candidate running against Little in the Nov. 8 general election, welcomed Biden’s announcement and action.

Candidate for governor Stephen Heidt
Candidate for governor Stephen Heidt speaks at the Idaho Democratic Convention on June 17, 2022. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

“Cannabis has been decriminalized and legalized in surrounding states,” Heidt said in a written statement. “Idaho citizens with convictions for marijuana possession are often denied employment, housing, travel visas and educational opportunities. They are sitting in our prisons costing taxpayers millions of dollars and unable to work and support their families or contribute to society.”

In an interview with the Sun on Friday morning, Little said he participated in a phone call about Biden’s pardons. 

“I don’t think we have many people in our prisons for simple possession of three ounces or less, if it is, it is on top of other offenses,” Little said in a telephone interview. “That might have been a nothing burger when (Biden) gets to the end of the analysis.”

When asked a follow-up question about whether he would consider pardons to remove a barrier to employment, housing or education, Little’s staff referred the Sun to Little’s statement criticizing Biden’s actions and saying that cases should be reviewed on their individual merits.

Little, the Republican incumbent, is running for re-election against Heidt, independent Ammon Bundy, Libertarian Paul Sand, Constitution Party candidate Chantyrose Davison and write-in candidate Lisa Marie in the Nov. 8 general election.

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Clark Corbin
Clark Corbin

Clark Corbin has more than a decade of experience covering Idaho government and politics. He has covered every Idaho legislative session since 2011 gavel-to-gavel. Prior to joining the Idaho Capital Sun he reported for the Idaho Falls Post Register and Idaho Education News. His reporting in Idaho has helped uncover a multimillion-dollar investment scam and exposed inaccurate data that school districts submitted to the state.

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