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POTUS To Issue More Marijuana Pardons Under New Proclamation

Emily Mullins

by Emily Mullins

December 22, 2023 12:09 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes
POTUS To Issue More Marijuana Pardons Under New Proclamation

A new proclamation signed by President Joe Biden last Friday will target issuing marijuana pardons to people convicted of prior cannabis-related offenses. This action is part of a larger initiative that Biden has been working on since last year.

How The Marijuana Pardon Plans To Help

This pardon will help people convicted at the federal level, but Biden is urging governors to enact similar actions within individual states. While the exact numbers of people affected by this proclamation are still uncertain, it’s a progressive move forward that has the potential to help thousands. It will also grant clemency to 11 people currently serving extended or life sentences for cannabis possession.

In a public statement, Biden said, “Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

The pardon targets individuals convicted of nonviolent possession or marijuana use on federal grounds, including Washington, D.C. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is currently considering the rescheduling of cannabis from its current Schedule I classification, where it is ranked alongside heroin as an extremely abusive substance. This action aligns with the ongoing efforts for reform. This could eventually lead to federal legalization of cannabis, which was a key point of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

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The Next Steps In Cannabis Reform

While the new proclamation is a step forward, it is not quite perfect. Activists have noted that it doesn’t apply to everyone.

The proclamation does not cover illegal immigrants, as well as individuals charged with cannabis distribution and selling. Additionally, there is still a large number of people with non-violent cannabis convictions in prison awaiting release. Fortunately, this move will overwhelmingly help people of color and other minorities convicted of cannabis charges.

People with marijuana charges who would like to apply for a pardon can do so by submitting applications to the Justice Department. Hopefully, this move will trickle down to the state level and further release people in local jails and penitentiaries. By receiving pardons, people will be able to overcome significant hurdles in acquiring housing and employment after release.

In Biden’s statement, he wrote, “America was founded on the principle of equal justice under law — our criminal justice system can and should reflect this core value that makes our communities safer and stronger. That’s why I’m announcing additional steps to make the promise of equal justice a reality.”

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