In a historic move, President Joe Biden announced he is pardoning all of those with prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana.
The White House announced the marijuana reform on Thursday, Oct. 6 during Biden's visit to the Hudson Valley at an IBM facility in Poughkeepsie, saying he has directed Attorney General Merrick Garland to develop an administrative process to issue certificates of pardon to individuals who are eligible.
Biden said thousands of people with federal convictions for marijuana possession have had their lives upended.
"Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities," Biden said. "And while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates."
Biden urged governors to take the same action with regard to state offenses.
The president said he has asked both the secretary of Health and Human Services and the attorney general to begin a process to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law, as it is currently classified in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the classification meant for the most dangerous substances.
"Finally, even as federal and state regulation of marijuana changes, important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and under-age sales should stay in place," he said. "Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs."
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