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Joe Biden to pardon everyone convicted on federal marijuana possession charges

Joe Biden to pardon everyone convicted on federal marijuana possession charges

The president announced the move after previously discussing it during his electoral campaign

US president Joe Biden has announced plans to pardon everyone in the country who has been convicted on federal marijuana possession charges.

The news was released by the White House today (6 October), after Biden previously raised his concerns over those behind bars for offences related to weed.

Many Democrats have been calling for pardons for those convicted on marijuana possession charges, and Biden also encouraged governors to follow in his example as he made the declaration, which comes before the upcoming midterm election which will decide whether Biden's party can hold onto control of Congress.

Announcing the decision, Biden said: “As I said when I ran for president, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit."

The president went on to claim that criminal records for the possession of weed have 'imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities', and noted that although white, Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, 'Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates'.

"Today, I am announcing three steps that I am taking to end this failed approach," Biden said, adding: "First, I am announcing a pardon of all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana. I have directed the Attorney General to develop an administrative process for the issuance of certificates of pardon to eligible individuals."

Biden called on governors to follow in his footsteps.
Geopix/Alamy Stock Photo

"Second, I am urging all Governors to do the same with regard to state offenses. Just as no one should be in a Federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either," Biden continued.

Noting that marijuana is currently classed under federal law as a Schedule I drug, the same as heroin and LSD, the president added: "Third, I am asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law."

Biden concluded his statement by stressing that 'important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and under-age sales should stay in place', but arguing that 'too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana'.

"It’s time that we right these wrongs," he said.

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Featured Image Credit: Geopix/The Canadian Press/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: US News, Drugs