House pardons cannabis offenders


The move is expected to affect more than 6,500 people convicted of federal marijuana charges

US President Joe Biden will pardon thousands of Americans found guilty of simple cannabis possession, take executive action to overturn federal convictions and urge state governments to follow suit.

The White House announced the move Thursday, with Biden pledging to help “Turn right [the] faults” of past drug policies at both the federal and state levels — a promise he made repeatedly as a candidate on the campaign trail ahead of the 2020 election.

“No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Sending people to prison for marijuana possession has turned too many lives upside down and locked people up for behavior that is no longer illegal in many states.” he said. “There are thousands of people who have previous federal convictions for marijuana possession who could be denied employment, housing or educational opportunities as a result.”

Officials were unable to provide hard numbers on the number of Americans currently behind bars for cannabis possession, but noted that between 1992 and 2021, approximately 6,500 people were convicted on federal charges in US states and thousands more in the District of Columbia.

In addition to the pardon, which will come after a review process overseen by Attorney General Merrick Garland, Biden called on governors to grant their own pardons for state-level marijuana possession, and said he would urge officials to reconsider how cannabis is used. is handled under federal law. It is currently a Schedule 1 substance, the highest classification reserved for the most dangerous drugs with no accepted medicinal use.

“This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD, and even higher than the classification for fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are causing our overdose epidemic,” the chairman continued.

While Biden effectively pushed for a review of US cannabis policy, he said: “important” restrictions on “trade, marketing and sale to minors” should stay in place.

Since California first legalized medicinal cannabis in 1996, 35 other states have followed suit, while 19 have abolished most criminal penalties for recreational use by adults. However, the plant remains illegal at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act of 1971, which means federal law enforcement agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) can still arrest offenders for simple possession, as well as for manufacturing, transporting, or selling the plant. medicine.

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