Biden to pardon thousands of people with cannabis convictions

Biden to pardon thousands of people with cannabis convictions

President Joe Biden has announced plans to pardon thousands of people with federal convictions for simple possession of cannabis in what is seen as a step towards the drug’s decriminalisation in the United States.

The pardons will not apply to people convicted under state laws, so will only affect around 6,500 people, according to CNN. It will also not lead to any prisoner releases as nobody is currently imprisoned solely for federal simple cannabis possession.

President Biden said: “There are thousands of people who have prior federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.”

He also called on state governors “to do the same with regard to state offences”.

A minority of states have legalised or decriminalised cannabis for recreational purposes, while others have allowed it for medicinal uses — but it remains illegal under federal law.

However, President Biden said he would order a review of how cannabis is regulated under federal law, which has been seen as a step towards federal decriminalisation.

He said: “I am asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.

“Federal law currently classifies marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the classification meant for the most dangerous substances. This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD, and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine — the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic.”

Share icon
Share this article: