Biden pardons thousands for 'simple possession' of marijuana

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law as his administration takes a dramatic step toward decriminalizing the drug and addressing charging practices that disproportionately impact people of color.

Biden's move also covers thousands convicted of the crime in the District of Columbia. He is also calling on governors to issue similar pardons for those convicted of state marijuana offenses, which reflect the vast majority of marijuana possession cases.


Biden, in a statement, said the move reflects his position that “no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana.”

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana," he added. “It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

According to the White House, no one is currently in federal prison solely for “simple possession” of the drug, but the pardon could help thousands overcome obstacles to renting a home or finding a job.

“There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result,” he said. “My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions."


The pardon does not cover convictions for possession of other drugs or for charges relating to producing or possessing marijuana with an intent to distribute. Biden is also not pardoning non-citizens who were in the U.S. without legal status at the time of their arrest.


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