Today is a victory for those who have been convicted and jailed for marijuana possession.
On Thursday (Oct. 6), President Joe Biden announced he would pardon all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession in a move that White House officials predicted would benefit thousands.
“No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” President Biden said. “It’s legal in many states, and criminal records for marijuana possession have led to needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And that’s before you address the racial disparities around who suffers the consequences. While white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people are arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
He added, “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”
The president revealed the three steps he is taking toward ending the racial injustice against Black and Brown people regarding marijuana possession, including the pardon. “My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions,” he said. “I am urging all Governors to do the same with regard to state offenses. Thirdly, 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.”
He added, “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.”
According to CNN, Biden’s views on marijuana are influenced by his age and his time as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. During his 2020 presidential campaign, aides argued he was waiting for new studies to inform a shift in his position. In the absence of such studies, he was eventually moved by arguments about racial injustice.
You can watch President Biden’s speech and read his complete statement on marijuana reform down below:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 6, 2022
Whoa, Biden just pardoned everyone convicted of the federal crime of marijuana possession. And set in motion a process to reschedule or deschedule cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. pic.twitter.com/yv0nNw089q
— David Dayen (@ddayen) October 6, 2022