President Biden has issued an executive order pardoning all federal marijuana possession charges and called upon state governors to do the same at a state level.
It’s believed over 6000 people are currently living with federal marijuana possession charges.
Taking to Twitter to announce the decision, Biden wrote: “As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Today, I’m taking steps to end our failed approach.”
“I’m pardoning all prior federal offences 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,” said Biden before he called on “governors to pardon simple state marijuana possession offenses. Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely for possessing marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either.”
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. Today, we begin to right these wrongs.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 6, 2022
He went on to say he would be asking the Attorney General to look at how Marijuana is currently classified under federal law.
“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. Today, we begin to right these wrongs,” he added, before saying how “as federal and state regulations change, we still need important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and underage sales of marijuana.”
As it stands, recreational marijuana has been legalised by 19 states while its medicinal use is legal in 37 states.
Biden has previously faced criticism for his 1994 crime bill that tightened penalties for drug crimes and led to more incarceration of minorities.
Some people have accused the move as “window dressing” though. Life For Pot, a website advocating for the release of non-violent marijuana offenders, said that there are no known federal prisoners that will be affected by Biden’s new measures, as most convictions occur at state level.
Earlier this year, UK cannabis campaigners launched a new report calling on the government to consider “sensible” reforms of the UK’s drug legislation.