President Biden has announced mass pardons for those convicted of simply possessing marijuana at a federal level. The term “simple marijuana possession” refers to someone arrested while carrying a small amount of the drug they did not intend to sell or distribute. The pardons will not apply to cases linked to more severe crimes, such as murder or assault. The move will not result in any federal prison releases, as no one in the system currently meets these requirements.
While the move is seen as a win for marijuana activists, it will likely apply to less than 7,000 people. Those arrested by their local police will not be eligible since states set their laws regarding the drug. To be eligible for the pardon, you’ll need to have been charged by the federal government or convicted by the D.C. Superior Court.
With more states legalizing marijuana, there has been growing pressure on the White House and President Biden to take this step. While the scope of the announcement is small, it is a significant step towards decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. While this requires congressional approval, Biden has sent a strong message with this move.
The move was celebrated by supporters, who believe it will lead to more changes down the road. They hope Biden’s pardons will inspire governors to follow suit, leading to hundreds of thousands of people seeing their records cleared of the crime. It will be a slow process, but this announcement is a big step forward.
Everyone charged with simple marijuana possession by the federal government since 1992 (the last year of data available) will see their records cleared. We will also likely increase support for these initiatives at the state level, especially with many having marijuana legalization on their ballots in November.
The upcoming midterm elections will largely determine whether this momentum for marijuana legalization will continue.