Joe Biden set to pardon everyone convicted on federal marijuana possession charges

vt-author-image

By Phoebe Egoroff

Article saved!Article saved!

US President Joe Biden has just announced that he will pardon thousands of people currently convicted of federal marijuana possession charges.

The POTUS additionally encouraged state governors to follow suit regarding state offenses, as well as asking the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reconsider how marijuana is classified pursuant to federal US law.

The news comes not long before the upcoming midterm elections in November, which will decide whether the Democratic Party can maintain control of Congress.

Since being legalized in California in 1996, marijuana has slowly been decriminalized across numerous states in the US - including Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. However, thousands of people have remained in prison for simple possession of marijuana convictions under federal law between 1992 to 2021, per NBC News.

wp-image-1263172231 size-full
Credit: NORML.org (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws)

More than 6,500 people with prior convictions for marijuana possession will benefit from Biden's pardons, however, these pardons sadly do not extend to those who were not citizens and were not US legal residents at the time of their arrest, per CNBC.

According to a 2020 study by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Black people have been four times more likely than white people to face incarceration for marijuana possession, despite both groups using the drug at almost equal rates.

Taking to Twitter, the 79-year-old wrote that he was "taking steps" to end America's "failed approach" to marijuana possession under federal laws in a series of tweets.

"As I've said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Today, I'm taking steps to end our failed approach. Allow me to lay them out," Biden's first tweet read.

He then continued: "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," he added.

"Third: We classify marijuana at the same level as heroin – and more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense. I'm asking [HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra] and the Attorney General to initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law," Biden's third tweet read.

This would have been in reference to the fact that marijuana, despite being legalized in multiple US states, is still classed as a Schedule I drug under federal law (the same classification as heroin).

"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," the 46th US President concluded.

Per POLITICO, this year the legal cannabis industry in the US is projected to rake in $32 billion worth of sales, jumping to a whopping $68 billion by 2028.

Featured image credit: Abaca Press / Alamy

Joe Biden set to pardon everyone convicted on federal marijuana possession charges

vt-author-image

By Phoebe Egoroff

Article saved!Article saved!

US President Joe Biden has just announced that he will pardon thousands of people currently convicted of federal marijuana possession charges.

The POTUS additionally encouraged state governors to follow suit regarding state offenses, as well as asking the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reconsider how marijuana is classified pursuant to federal US law.

The news comes not long before the upcoming midterm elections in November, which will decide whether the Democratic Party can maintain control of Congress.

Since being legalized in California in 1996, marijuana has slowly been decriminalized across numerous states in the US - including Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. However, thousands of people have remained in prison for simple possession of marijuana convictions under federal law between 1992 to 2021, per NBC News.

wp-image-1263172231 size-full
Credit: NORML.org (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws)

More than 6,500 people with prior convictions for marijuana possession will benefit from Biden's pardons, however, these pardons sadly do not extend to those who were not citizens and were not US legal residents at the time of their arrest, per CNBC.

According to a 2020 study by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Black people have been four times more likely than white people to face incarceration for marijuana possession, despite both groups using the drug at almost equal rates.

Taking to Twitter, the 79-year-old wrote that he was "taking steps" to end America's "failed approach" to marijuana possession under federal laws in a series of tweets.

"As I've said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Today, I'm taking steps to end our failed approach. Allow me to lay them out," Biden's first tweet read.

He then continued: "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," he added.

"Third: We classify marijuana at the same level as heroin – and more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense. I'm asking [HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra] and the Attorney General to initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law," Biden's third tweet read.

This would have been in reference to the fact that marijuana, despite being legalized in multiple US states, is still classed as a Schedule I drug under federal law (the same classification as heroin).

"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," the 46th US President concluded.

Per POLITICO, this year the legal cannabis industry in the US is projected to rake in $32 billion worth of sales, jumping to a whopping $68 billion by 2028.

Featured image credit: Abaca Press / Alamy