In an Extraordinary and Historic Move, President Biden is Pardoning All Federal Offenses of Simple Marijuana Possession
In the first step towards decriminalization of marijuana on the federal level, President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he would
In the first step towards decriminalization of marijuana on the federal level, President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he would be pardoning all federal offenses for simple marijuana.
The President said in a statement, "Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And while White and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
Biden Hopes States Will Follow the Federal Lead
As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana.— President Biden (@POTUS) October 6, 2022
Today, I’m taking steps to end our failed approach. Allow me to lay them out.
Biden will also encourage governors to take similar steps towards those convicted on the state level for marijuana offenses.
CNN writes, "The moves stop short of full decriminalization, which has enjoyed growing support among both political parties. But they are the first significant steps taken by a US president toward removing criminal penalties for possessing marijuana.
Marijuana is illegal under federal law, even as individual states have moved toward legal use for recreational and medical purposes. Under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is listed on Schedule 1, meaning it has 'no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.'
That has left some uses open to prosecution, even in places where marijuana use is legal."
While on the campaign trail for the presidency in 2020, Biden shared his thoughts on decriminalization; "No one should be in jail because of marijuana. As President, I will decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions."
However, the then-candidate stopped short of supporting legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
In a series of tweets, Biden outlined what the pardons would mean:
"First: I’m pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession. There are thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My pardon will remove this burden.
Second: I’m calling on governors to pardon simple state marijuana possession offenses. Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely for possessing marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either.
Third: We classify marijuana at the same level as heroin – and more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense. I’m asking @SecBecerra and the Attorney General to initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.
I’d also like to note that as federal and state regulations change, we still need important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and underage sales of marijuana.
Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives – for conduct that is legal in many states. That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs."
This is a developing story.