President Biden is pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana, the White House announced Thursday, although senior officials insisted to reporters that any people currently in federal prisons for simple possession of marijuana only are not. The president is also asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services to review how marijuana is classified under federal law.
In addition, the president is urging all governors to pardon state offenses of simple marijuana possession. Liberals have long pressured Biden to legalize cannabis. The announcement, which falls short of legalization, comes barely a month before competitive midterm elections that will determine control of the House and Senate.
“As I have often said during my campaign for president, no one should be in prison just for using or possessing marijuana,” the president said in a statement. “Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has ended many lives and imprisoned people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records of marijuana possession have led to employment, housing and educational Unnecessary barriers to opportunity. 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. Is.”
The president said he has directed Attorney General Merrick Garland to develop a process for issuing certificates of pardon to eligible Americans, a move to help relieve the consequences for those who need housing or employment may be denied. He is also asking HHS Secretary Javier Becerra to review and reconsider the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification for the most dangerous substances.
“It’s the same schedule for heroin and LSD, and even exceeds the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine — the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic,” the president said.
The president still wants to ban the smuggling, marketing, and underage sales of weed.
Biden said, “Our failed approach to marijuana has thrown many people’s lives into disarray.” “It’s time we correct these mistakes.”
Moving away from the punishment for possessing marijuana is a change for Mr Biden.He strongly opposed the drug. In 2010, he told ABC News, “I still believe it is a gateway drug,” and legalizing it would be “a mistake.”
— Gabby Acke contributed to this report. This is a developing story.