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.

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usefewersyllables's picture

The pander bears are really coming out of the woodwork now, aren't they: trying to find things for our meat-puppet-in-chief to appear to be "for" that might somehow shore up his support, and provide a hint of an imaginary coattail for the otherwise unelectable dem party drones in the midterm bloodbath to come.

Hey, Brandon: a day late and a dollar short there, Sunshine. I'm sure that (IF this actually happens, and isn't mere tongue-bath window dressing) a lot of people will be happy about it. But I don't think that it is going to make up for the fact that we are one enlisted man's mistake away from being FUCKING VAPORIZED at any moment. People who are ducking and covering aren't likely to vote for the Party That Lit The Fuse. Roll *that* up into your pipe and smoke it.

Howzabout doing something really substantive like trying not to kill us all, hm? Turning the dems into a "Party of Peace" would be nice. I wouldn't believe any of it either, of course, but as lies go it'd be nice.

We are one white flash away from the legalization of *anything* being rendered moot. I'm more convinced than ever that this time the balloon really will go up. It won't happen as a result of thunderous speeches and chess-match-like subtle provocations, even though we have had plenty of those already: it'll happen as a result of a combination of human error and/or equipment malfunction in our aging bangtoys. All it would take is one nutcase on someone's boomer laying off someone else's coast to loose one SLBM and it'll be katie-bar-the-door. Once the first one launches (for any reason or no reason), they all will: use 'em or lose 'em.

I've mentioned this before, of course. There have been too many seriously close calls already, some of which were only stopped by the willingness of a single person to say "No, the world will not end on my watch". Look up Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov and Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov for a couple of examples of such.

And they are some of the the crazy, unhinged, homicidal baby-eating Rooskies that we are all supposed to fear at all costs. Faugh. There are undoubtedly examples of this understated heroism on our side as well, although we'll probably never hear about them. We've been told forever that our side's weapons and command-and-control systems are perfect and failsafe; that wouldn't fit the official narrative. However, having said that, with the infestation of our armed forces by right-wing "Christian" dominionists who might well decide to seize the opportunity to immanentize the eschaton, I'm not so sure.

And now we suddenly have somewhat-respected editorial writers and relatively high-placed people in both parties making noises about how maybe a little nuclear war might actually be, you know, a good idea. There are far too many moving parts, and far too many points of unrecoverable failure, to justify this to "increase shareholder value". We should not be here.

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

travelerxxx's picture

@usefewersyllables

... with the infestation of our armed forces by right-wing "Christian" dominionists who might well decide to seize the opportunity to immanentize the eschaton ...

My understanding is that the U.S. Air Force (in particular) is shot-through with these types. I don't like the idea of any of them anywhere near any Big Red Buttons. I'm afraid they are, however. Not good.

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@travelerxxx Weirdly enough, the Air Force is also the branch with the most pagans!

https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/air-force-welcomes-wiccans-and-pagans/

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7 users have voted.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

To paraphrase Jodie Foster: Human is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.

travelerxxx's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

Whether they come close to the numbers of Thumpers, I dunno ....but if it takes two to mash down on that Big Red Button, I can only hope they pair Pounders with anti-Pounders.

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@travelerxxx They say there are only so many sorts of people...

vdozt.jpeg

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8 users have voted.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

To paraphrase Jodie Foster: Human is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.

Remember that missing $600 covid relief?
Student debt relief? Stopping the pandemic?
This mouth without a brain attached is looking
for votes period. His lies are not garnering much
enthusiasm, as far as I can tell. His handlers will
not allow the prison industry to lose all of that
gravy. So, no. Pot possession is not going to be
excused by the fed. No way, no how.

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usefewersyllables's picture

@QMS

Wake me up when something actually *happens*, something more than releasing a few token people here or there.

This will be tied up in the courts in 3… 2… 1…, and walked back 5 minutes later. This shiny object is not going to be the cool midterm game changer they hope, because nobody will believe they’ll actually be able to make it stick. They are simply playing on people’s hopes.

Again.

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8 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

@usefewersyllables Presidential pardons usually can easily withstand challenge.

It was a good move, the right thing to do. Of course it has no bearing on state convictions.

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@wokkamile was from 2017. 92 people convicted. No data on current incarcerated. Likely, it is only a hand full of fed prisoners who walk.
What happens to those currently indicted?
This helps very few people, and is a stunt. The rwnj Texas guv says he is gonna legalize pot if re-elected. The goof ball dem Beto says he will legalize it. They won't.

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6 users have voted.

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

@on the cusp affect 6,500, so a fair-sized number if true, and it seems a credible number when considering all convictions over many yrs at the fed level and those affected having their rights restored. For sure, it's limited, but it sends a strong message about at least the feds continuing to prosecute for mere possession, and hopefully will send a strong signal to the states, whose arrest-happy police forces arrested 6.1m people for simple possession between 2010-2018. That's nuts. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/10/06/biden-to-pardon-all-prior-federal-offens...

And Biden also is instructing HHS and DOJ to review the classification of MJ in the same Schedule 1 category as heroin and LSD, which is also an absurd situation.

It's an election year, pols tend to be bolder in these periods, but it's law 'n' order Dem Biden of course, so it's unrealistic to expect radical sweeping measures. Still, it's progress, and a good move. Gotta give the devil his due sometimes. Seems he has evolved a bit since his harsh crackdown days of the 80s and 90s.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@QMS at the price of gasoline. America still has no decent mass transit system, but it's becoming expensive to drive.

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8 users have voted.

"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

@Cassiodorus How else to force people into the much easily controllable city? I don't want to think this way, but the disappearing of flyover america is a real thing and these are people that may be "republican" but they believe vehemently in the right to bear arms and free speech (really) in my experience.

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3 users have voted.

If it was easy, everyone would do it.

janis b's picture

what I heard today on the radio - "Investigators Believe They Have Enough Evidence to Charge Hunter Biden with Tax, Gun Crimes : Report”

Biden’s son Hunter was also charged in 1988 for possession of controlled substances. At the same time his father, as senator, was ramping up the war on drugs. Could this change of heart redeem the president. I guess time will tell.

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snoopydawg's picture

@janis b

Hunter got away with using cocaine when he was in the military and there are countless pictures of him doing some very questionable things. But the FBI has known about his tax evasion for some time as well as his not registering as a foreign lobbyist and of course the gun debacle after his wife/girlfriend disposed of his gun improperly.

I don’t like seeing anyone going to jail for drug crimes, but if those who aren’t connected do then so should those who are. I’m tired of there being 2 sets of justice here where the rich escape from what the poor get convicted of.

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9 users have voted.

It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

Proud election denier

janis b's picture

@snoopydawg

Don't let it tire you out too much, waiting for justice equal to the injustice between those who have and have not.

How are you and Sam?

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snoopydawg's picture

@janis b

We just got back from 6 days camping in the Unitas and timed it perfectly for the aspen to be at their peak colors. Then a few thunderstorms came through and stripped the trees of their leaves and the show was over. I posted a few pictures here. Sam is doing well and she had a great time protecting me from the squirrels she chatted with. We are meeting social on Sunday and hopefully will spend some time watching her wade after eating at the oldest bar in Utah.

Hope things are going well for you in NZ with your nut job PM? I hear that she is on her way out? How will her replacement do?

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8 users have voted.

It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

Proud election denier

janis b's picture

@snoopydawg

I’ll never forget the sound of the quaking leaves and their delicacy as they spun gently in whatever light was present.

That is a beautiful portrait of Sam looking out.

Regarding the PM, judging from polls she will probably not win the next election in a year from now. I think her replacement will be even worse.

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snoopydawg's picture

@janis b

Here she is helping me back out of the driveway and making sure that I don’t run over anyone. The minute I start backing out she does this no matter where we are. People crack up when they see her doing that.

CF2C9F7E-F99F-451D-B85A-00F26145CF23.jpeg

There’s never a dull moment with her.

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7 users have voted.

It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

Proud election denier

janis b's picture

@snoopydawg

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mimi's picture

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mimi

Remember when O'bummer was so "marriage was between a man and a woman",same as the Clintons? As the states passed laws legalizing the marriages, when there was a tipping point, up comes Obama and Clinton from the rear to lead the parade and bask in the credit. The states led the way. Same here. What took Biden so long? The 2022 elections.

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5 users have voted.

@Snode a little different. It was VP Joe Biden who got out there ahead of the pack.

In 2012, he and Obama had discussed their evolution on the issue and when to announce it. Interesting story. But for whatever reason, it was VP Biden who either jumped the gun or ran interference for his boss by doing a nat'l tv interview to announce he was in favor of the states legalizing gay marriage, at a time when only 2 states had done so. Obama followed shortly after, having no choice but to announce it quickly and months before the Nov '12 election. https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/05/06/joe-biden-gay-marriage...

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@wokkamile That was planned. Come on, cynic me says it looks better if the white dude does it first.

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3 users have voted.

If it was easy, everyone would do it.

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

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4 users have voted.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

To paraphrase Jodie Foster: Human is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.

@The Liberal Moonbat Brandon is. At least a few people can get better jobs. From today's OT, we learn liberals care about free enterprise. Liberals want better workers that carry pardons and PTSD from their prison experience.

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"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

usefewersyllables's picture

@on the cusp

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@on the cusp I did find it all a little hard to decipher, personally, so I wasn't sure if the person who'd reached this conclusion hadn't made a mistake or oversight - but I figure you'd be able to figure out the facts of the matter as well as anyone. Part of why I shared it here was honestly for vetting.

Is it really a pure scam, then? Not even some tiny increment of progress they can point out with a magnifying glass?

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2 users have voted.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

To paraphrase Jodie Foster: Human is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.

@The Liberal Moonbat will be able to show a pardon when they are having a background check for employment, obtaining a passport, entering a rental contract, etc...Others in prison for the same thing will remain in prison, and will have their convictions in plain view at background check.
Those who have trials pending will be subject to prison, as before.
My hat is off to the 6500 people, and I sincerely hope it helps them.It seems to me that this was more a stunt to get some political capital than a serious effort to reform the penal code.
So, do not carry your tiny amount of pot across a state line. Same as it always was.

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"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@on the cusp Just more of the same "I technically gave you something, so lick my face, Dog" they've been giving us for years.

OTOH, is this low a bid lower enough from before to be noteworthy?

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4 users have voted.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

To paraphrase Jodie Foster: Human is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.

@The Liberal Moonbat are even alive? He could have made a real change. He did not. The step he took is going to lead to a political stumble.

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7 users have voted.

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

@on the cusp how exactly? A very strong majority of the public supports decriminalization and legalization of mj. And credible movements to legalize or decriminalize are afoot in both Blue and Red states, so this issue seems to enjoy popular support among the people. It's the pols who have been following from behind.

Politically, this move (yes, big surprise, Biden, being a pol for 50 yrs now can be expected to make a move in a political year which has some important political purpose) would likely tend to benefit Ds across the land, as it raises grassroots support for them among their minority and youth constituencies, the ones most affected by overly harsh and unjust criminal prosecutions. The hardliner holdouts on all drugs, 97% in the R camp, will squeal and squirm and protest about Biden's actions, but their squawking will get no traction.

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usefewersyllables's picture

@wokkamile

could get a lot of traction, if they are wise enough to to point out that this was essentially a meaningless, pandering gesture in any case. “We didn’t oppose it because it was just an obvious ploy for votes- we would have opposed it, had it meant anything. Look how desperate they are…”.

So could a hypothetical attacker from the “left”, whatever that is these days. He certainly left his left flank wide open.

People are waking up to the unfulfilled promises from the dem wing of the uniparty, in any case. In keeping with that, this is nothing substantive- just a PR move. It needs to be called out as such.

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4 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

@usefewersyllables What left flank? Who left flank?

The "left" will applaud the pardons, as some leftish orgs are already doing, even as they acknowledge it wasn't 100% of what they wanted. What gov't action ever is 100%?

This will help politically with minorities and the youth, two groups not always reliable in showing up for midterm elections. Also a good move wrt indy and libertarian type voters. None of these groups is likely to nitpick and complain that the move by Biden wasn't 100% perfect.

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1 user has voted.

@usefewersyllables Bernie Sanders says Biden's move was a good one, though we need more and need to legalize marijuana. Roughly what I've been saying in these posts. https://truthout.org/articles/sanders-bidens-marijuana-pardons-are-good-...

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usefewersyllables's picture

@wokkamile

disagree, then. I don’t think that it was enough, especially given the timing, and I expect it to become a net negative for him in the fullness of time. If you find it sufficient, and more than that if you find it *wise*, then more power to you. Your response is what the dems need.

They just aren’t going to get that response from me. And I can speak for no one else.

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2 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

@on the cusp @on the cusp currently no people in fed prison for mj possession, that would tend to suggest the ones who are still in the legal pipeline post-arrest are also few in number, at the fed level, and with this pardon are likely to see little by way of further steps in prosecution as Biden sends a strong signal to the DOJ not to prosecute for mere possession.

Yes, it's true the pardon doesn't expunge the record, but, first, it's the formerly strict law 'n' order Biden, not Bernie, issuing the pardons, so some expectations here might have been wildly unrealistic. Second, the rights of those convicted are now restored, a major positive, and on the employment/rental front, one might consider whether the convicted/pardoned person would want to work for an employer/rent from a landlord, who still stubbornly insists on taking a punishing attitude towards mj. But yes, I would have preferred Biden have made the pardon to include the entire post-arrest period and include an expungement from the record, if that was possible under his exec order.

It is important though, which I think is more than a mere political ploy, that Biden is directing DOJ and fed agencies (DEA) to consider re-classifying mj to a lower level, or declassifying it altogether, which would be preferred. Bec of congressional action in this area, only the congress and HHS can re-classify/declassify, and not the president.

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@wokkamile and requesting re-classification be "considered".
It just appears to me that he is a hypocrite. What is stopping him from declaring that he will pardon anyone convicted of that crime will immediately be pardoned?
People will see he has not changed his harsh criminal justice stance, and I believe it may turn more people to distrust him.

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"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

@on the cusp or declassifying, see this helpful summary piece from CRS:

If the President sought to act in the area of controlled substances regulation, he would likely do so by executive order. However, the Supreme Court has held that the President has the power to issue an executive order only if authorized by “an act of Congress or . . . the Constitution itself.” The CSA does not provide a direct role for the President in the classification of controlled substances, nor does Article II of the Constitution grant the President power in this area (federal controlled substances law is an exercise of Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce). Thus, it does not appear that the President could directly deschedule or reschedule marijuana by executive order.
Although the President may not unilaterally deschedule or reschedule a controlled substance, he does possess a large degree of indirect influence over scheduling decisions. ...

https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10655

As for the rest, showing the limits on pres'l power in this area, see further under Presidential Pardons and Prosecutorial Discretion

In addition to, or instead of, granting clemency, the President could direct the Department of Justice (DOJ) to exercise its discretion not to prosecute some or all marijuana-related offenses. Although DOJ generally enjoys significant independence, particularly with respect to its handling of specific cases, the President has the authority to direct DOJ as part of his constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

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janis b's picture

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

To paraphrase Jodie Foster: Human is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.