Biden pardons all simple marijuana possession
Surprise! Actual good news for a change.
(CNN) President Joe Biden is taking his first major steps toward decriminalizing marijuana, fulfilling a campaign pledge to erase prior federal possession convictions and beginning the process of potentially loosening federal classification of the drug.
Biden on Thursday will pardon all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession, a move that senior administration officials said would affect thousands of Americans charged with that crime.
And the President will task the Department of Health and Human Services and Attorney General Merrick Garland to “expeditiously” review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law, the first step toward potentially easing a federal classification that currently places marijuana in the same category as heroin and LSD.
“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.
This isn't decriminalization. Nor is it at the state level.
A House bill by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Dave Joyce, would set aside grant funding for states that want to expunge cannabis-related records.
Five states are voting on recreational cannabis legalization in the 2022 midterms: Missouri, Arkansas, North and South Dakota, and Maryland.
Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and 19 states have legal adult-use marijuana.