President Joe Biden on Thursday pardoned all prior federal offenses of “simple possession of marijuana,” Spectrum News reports. Biden is also looking at rescheduling or descheduling weed.
Biden requested a review of how marijuana is scheduled under federal law, from Attorney General Merrick Garland. The president also included Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in that request.
“As I often said during my campaign for President, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden wrote. “Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit.
“Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” the President wrote. ”And while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
“End This Failed Approach”
The president announced in a statement Thursday that he is taking three steps to “end this failed approach” to marijuana.
Biden wants AG Garland to develop the process through which pardons can be formally issued.
“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,” Biden wrote. “My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.”
A senior administration official said “6,500 people with prior federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana … could benefit from this relief.”
Biden Calls On Governors To Do The Same
Biden also called on governors to do the same with state marijuana 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,” the President said.
Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. That, ridiculously, put weed alongside drugs like heroin and meth. Cocaine, on Schedule II, is officially safer than Schedule I marijuana, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Too Many Lives Have Been Upended”
Biden gets that, at least and at last. He said Schedule I — reserved for “the most dangerous substances” — is not appropriate for marijuana. He noted marijuana listing “even higher than … fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic.”
The president hedged that “even as federal and state regulation of marijuana changes, important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and under-age sales should stay in place.”
But the big picture is crucial. “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” President Biden concluded. “It’s time that we right these wrongs.”