October 10, 2022 – PRESIDENT BIDEN DECRIMINALIZING CANNABIS – President Joe Biden is taking his first major steps toward decriminalizing Cannabis, fulfilling a campaign promise to erase prior federal possession convictions, and beginning the process of potentially loosening federal classification of the drug.
This past Thursday, Biden’s Executive Action directive pardoned all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession, a move that senior administration officials said would affect thousands of Americans charged with that crime.
During his presidential campaign, he said, “No one should be in jail because of marijuana. As President, I will decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions.”
Biden’s pardons will be issued through an administration process overseen by the Justice Department, a senior administration official said.
The pardons will clear everyone convicted on federal charges of simple possession since it became a crime in the 1970s. Officials said full data was not available but noted that about 6,500 people were convicted of simple possession between 1992 and 2021, not counting legal permanent residents. Those eligible for the pardons would receive a certificate showing they had been officially forgiven for their crime.
As part of the announcement, Biden also encouraged governors to take similar steps to pardon state simple marijuana possession charges, a move that would potentially affect many thousands more Americans.
Loosening federal rules on marijuana has gained steam in recent years as the drug is legalized in a growing number of states. In late 2022, the House passed a measure that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, though it wasn’t taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Many political analysts feel the timing of the pardon is setting democrats up to win favor with voters ahead of midterms.
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