Joe Biden pardons thousands with federal convictions of marijuana possession
United States President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the government will be pardoning all individuals with prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana.
This is a move that was taken with an intention to decrease the pressure on the country’s prison system and also to cut down on the number of marijuana-related arrests in places where it is legal.
“There are thousands of people who have prior federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions,” Biden 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,” he added.
“It’s time that we right these wrongs,” Biden said on Thursday according to Reuters.
Biden has also urged governors of the states where marijuana is now legal to follow suit and make sure that no one is kept in the prisons due to just one offense. There are still some states where it is not legal but the president asked the authorities to show a bit of leniency.
Marijuana is currently classified in schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act under federal law but Biden asked the secretary of Health and Human Services to reconsider the classification.