U.S. President Joe Biden is set to pardon all federal offenses of marijuana possession, the White House announced.
The pardons apply to all federal cases of simple marijuana possession as well as convictions in the District of Columbia. At least 6,500 individuals will be immediately impacted by Biden’s pardons.
“President Biden pardons all prior federal convictions for simple marijuana possession - including under DC law - also directs states to do the same, and asks HHS & AG to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law,” reported Fox News' White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich.
“Senior admin official says 6500 people w/ federal convictions + thousands more under DC law will benefit... but no individuals are currently in federal prison solely for simple possession of marijuana. Most are @ state level,” Heinrich’s report continued.
The pardons will not affect anyone convicted of simple marijuana possession in state jurisdictions.
“As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail for using or possessing marijuana,” President Biden wrote on Twitter. “Today, I’m taking steps to end our failed approach.”
Biden's Twitter post 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.
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.