- Editor’s note: Not only is this huge, this IS the right thing to do.
Biden pardons thousands of people convicted of marijuana possession, orders review of federal pot laws
- President Joe Biden pardoned all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession.
- The pardons also apply to anyone in the District of Columbia convicted of simple possession of marijuana.
- Biden has also instructed Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to begin reviewing how marijuana is classified under federal drug laws.
President Joe Biden on Thursday pardoned thousands of individuals convicted of possessing marijuana, saying the current system “makes no sense” and sending pot stocks soaring on the news.
The pardons apply only to federal offenders convicted of “simple marijuana possession” as well as those charged in the District of Columbia, but Biden called on governors across the country to follow suit.
“Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” Biden said in a statement.
More than 6,500 individuals with prior convictions for simple marijuana possession were impacted by the pardons, a White House official said, and thousands more through pardons under D.C. law. The pardons will not be extended to those who weren’t U.S. citizens and were illegally in the country at the time of their arrest.
President Biden announces pardons for simple marijuana possession
From the Office of Gov. Jay Inslee:
President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he would pardon all prior federal offenses for simple possession of marijuana. The measure aligns with policies and actions already underway by Gov. Jay Inslee, legislators, and courts in Washington state.
“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,” said Biden. “Today, we begin to right these wrongs.”
In Washington state, it has not been considered criminal behavior for adults to possess a small amount of marijuana for personal use since voters approved Initiative 502 in 2012.
Inslee launched the Marijuana Justice Initiative in 2019 that allows people with prior convictions for misdemeanor marijuana possession to apply for a pardon. Later that year, the Legislature would pass SB 5605, which allowed multiple charges to be vacated and allowed a broader jurisdictional variety of convictions to be vacated. The governor has also commuted the sentences of 740 people on probation or under community supervision under older, now-invalid state drug possession law that was overturned by the Washington State Supreme Court’s so-called Blake decision.