“As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden tweeted Thursday. “Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives — for conduct that is legal in many states. That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs.”
As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana.
Today, I’m taking steps to end our failed approach. Allow me to lay them out.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 6, 2022
Biden’s pardon was unveiled via a statement and video rather than a public event. While there are no individual inmates in federal prisons solely for the simple possession of marijuana, more than 6,500 people will be affected by the retrospective relief and “1000s” who were convicted under the District of Columbia’s corresponding law, according to senior administration officials.
“There are thousands of people with prior federal convictions for marijuana possession who may be denied housing, employment or educational opportunities as a result,” an official said. “The president has directed the attorney general to develop an administrative process to issue certificates to eligible individuals.”
Biden also urged governors to take similar action at the state level because “no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason either,” according to officials.
“The president is asking the secretary of [Health and Human Services] and the attorney general to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law,” an official added. “Federal law currently classifies marijuana in schedule one of the Controlled Substances Act, the same schedule as for heroin and LSD. And it’s even higher than the classification for fentanyl and methamphetamine, the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic.”
An official underscored Biden’s belief that “important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and underage sales should stay in place.”
The policy update keeps a campaign promise Biden made in 2020, but it falls short of decriminalizing the drug.