President Joe Biden announced Thursday he was “pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession,” saying “no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana.”
The president also called for governors to follow his lead and pardon “simple state marijuana possession,” and asked for a review on how marijuana is classified under federal law, arguing it makes “no sense” that the drug is on the same legal level as heroin.
First: I’m pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession. There are thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My pardon will remove this burden.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 6, 2022
“As federal and state regulations change, we still need important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and underage sales of marijuana,” he added.
The announcement comes less than a month before the midterms, and would affect “thousands” of federal offenders, CNN reported.
The pardon would extend to offenders who were U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents at the time, not unlawful immigrants, according to the White House memo.
In 2019, Biden said he wanted more investigation into whether marijuana was a “gateway drug,” but also promised to decriminalize the use of the drug and “automatically expunge prior convictions.” (RELATED: Biden Supports Federal Decriminalization Of Marijuana And Legalization Of Medical Use, Psaki Says)
His campaign promise on marijuana stalled during his presidency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Vice President Kamala Harris.
In April of 2021, Harris said the administration hadn’t “yet” taken on the issue of decriminalizing marijuana.
“Honestly, right now, we’ve been focused on getting people food, helping them stay in their apartments or in their homes, getting kids back to school, getting shots into arms,” Harris said. “That has been all-consuming.”