On Thursday, October 6, US President Joe Biden announced a pardon for all Americans convicted of marijuana possession under federal laws, fulfilling a long-standing Democratic demand a month before the US midterm congressional elections.
“I am announcing a pardon of all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana,” Biden said in a statement issued both in writing and by video message.
“As I often said during my campaign 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,” Biden said.
Officials told reporters that only about 6,500 people are directly affected by convictions under federal marijuana statutes. However, Biden’s gesture aims to take the shift much further, with encouragement to state authorities to follow suit, while also looking at reclassifying marijuana as a less serious controlled substance.
He urged governors to extend the clemency to people who have been imprisoned by state laws criminalizing marijuana possession.
“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 said.
The third measure announced was instructing federal health and justice officials to “review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.”
US federal law places marijuana alongside far more dangerous narcotics such as heroin and LSD. Marijuana is placed even higher than hugely addictive drugs fentanyl and methamphetamine.
Watch the videos below.
"It's time that we right these wrongs," says President Biden while announcing he is pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana. https://t.co/q5GZGnIFPI pic.twitter.com/qLScxKOkTT
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 6, 2022
JUST IN: President Biden announces his plan to pardon thousands of people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law, and urges governors to do the same for those convicted under state laws. https://t.co/tNg0WyNK7a pic.twitter.com/kv2RdIRUY7
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 6, 2022