Biden pardons thousands for simple possession of marijuana

By Zeke Miller and Chris Megerian | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is pardoning thousands of Americans convicted under federal law of “mere possession” of marijuana as his administration takes a dramatic step to decriminalize the drug and crack down on charging practices that disproportionately hit people of color.

Biden’s move also affects thousands convicted of the crime in the District of Columbia. He’s also asking governors to issue similar pardons for those convicted of state marijuana offenses, reflecting the vast majority of marijuana possession cases.

Biden said in a statement the move reflects his position that “no one should be in prison just for using or possessing marijuana.”

“Too many lives have been turned upside down because of our failure to deal with marijuana,” he added. “It is time we corrected these mistakes.”

According to the White House, no one is currently in federal prison for “mere possession” of the drug, but the pardon could help thousands overcome obstacles to renting a home or finding a job.

“There are thousands of people who have already been federally convicted of possession of marijuana and who may be denied employment, housing or educational opportunities as a result,” he said. “My actions will help mitigate the side effects resulting from these convictions.”

Biden is also directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the US Attorney General to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal laws. Rescheduling the drug would reduce or potentially eliminate criminal penalties for possession.

But Biden said he believes the federal government and many states should relax marijuana laws and maintain restrictions on the trafficking, marketing and sale of minors.

Biden’s move puts the federal government on a par with other major cities, like New York, which have campaigned for years to decriminalize low-level marijuana arrests. But there’s a huge divide across the nation, with some police departments still believing the drug leads to more serious crimes, and ignoring low-level offenses encourages criminals.

The move also fulfills one of the Democratic nominee’s top priorities in one of her party’s most critical Senate races, as Pennsylvania Gov. John Fetterman has repeatedly urged Biden to take the step. Biden pardons thousands for simple possession of marijuana

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