Thursday afternoon, President Joe Biden announced that he would pardon thousands of people who were convicted in federal court for possessing marijuana. He also urged governors to do so at the state level.
Biden stated that holding people accountable for violating marijuana laws has “upended too many lives” and that people are being incarcerated for doing things that states do not prohibit.
He said that criminal records for marijuana possession had also created unnecessary barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. “And although white, black, and brown people use marijuana at the same rate, Black and Brown people have been arrested and prosecuted and convicted at disproportionately high rates.”
Biden stated, “I am announcing the pardon of all Federal offenses prior to simple possession of marijuana.” “I directed the Attorney General, to create an administrative process to issue certificates of pardon to all eligible persons.” “People with prior Federal marijuana possession convictions could be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities.”
Biden then urged all governors not to put people in “local jails or state prisons for that reason.”
Biden stated that he had directed his Health and Human Services secretary and attorney general to begin a review of how marijuana is classified under federal law.
Biden granted the pardon to the thousands of convicts just moments after posting the statement announcing the decision.
The proclamation stated that “my intention is to pardon only simple possession of marijuana in contravention of Federal law or D.C. Code 48-904.01 (d)(1)” and not other marijuana-related offenses. The proclamation states that the Attorney General shall, through the Pardon Attorney administer and effectuate the issuance of certificates of pardon to any eligible applicants who have been convicted or charged with simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.