In a historic move, today, President Joe Biden announced a three-step program to bring broad changes to federal cannabis policy. As an initial step towards reform, President Biden will pardon all federal offenders convicted of simple marijuana possession. According to administration officials, the pardons will be issued through an administration process overseen by the Department of Justice. Those eligible for the pardons will receive documentation showing they were officially forgiven for their crime.
“No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden said in a video announcing his executive actions. “It’s legal in many states, and criminal records for marijuana possession have led to needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And that’s before you address the racial disparities around who suffers the consequences. While white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people are arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs,” the President said.
As a second step in the program, Biden also encouraged Governors to take similar steps to pardon state simple cannabis possession charges.
And as the last step in this program, President Biden directed the Department of Health and Human Services and Attorney General Merrick Garland to “expeditiously” review the cannabis’s status as a Schedule I controlled drug pursuant to the federal Controlled Substances Act.