Biden Pardons Thousands With Marijuana Charges

( – For the second year in a row, President Biden issued a pardon for federal marijuana convictions. The news came in the form of a presidential proclamation on December 22, along with 11 clemencies. This year’s proclamation provides a pardon for individuals who have committed the offense of simply using marijuana, even if they have not been charged yet. In addition, the pardon covers those who possessed marijuana on certain federally owned lands. The pardon does not cover offenses for driving while under the influence of marijuana or offenses related to the distribution of marijuana. Non-citizens are not eligible for the pardon, but lawful permanent residents are included.

Decriminalization of marijuana is one issue that most Republicans and Democrats can agree upon, although Congress has failed to draft passable legislation to send to President Biden’s desk. Pennsylvania Democratic Senator John Fetterman applauded Biden for the expanded pardon in a post on X, formerly Twitter. He recalled his efforts for decriminalization and “delivering pardons for bullsh*t weed charges” during his tenure as Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor. He also wrote that he advocated directly to President Biden during his campaign for Senate, asking him to “de-schedule cannabis and pardon those charges.”

None of the thousands of people who are eligible for the pardon are currently imprisoned. However, it was designed to wipe their records clean to avoid facing problems when applying for jobs and renting or purchasing a home. Biden also encouraged state governors to issue similar pardons, as most marijuana possession charges are out of federal jurisdiction. Vice President Kamala Harris also released a statement to call on governors to follow in the Biden administration’s footsteps.

The eleven individuals who were granted clemency for nonviolent drug offenses were serving lengthy sentences that would be far shorter if they were convicted of the same offenses today. Marijuana is slowly losing the stigma that it has held for decades. A total of 23 states have legalized the drug for adult recreational use. Forty-one have legalized it for medical use.

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