Biden Pardons All Federal Offenses of Simple Marijuana Possession
President Joe Biden is taking the first major steps toward decriminalizing marijuana.
President Joe Biden has pardoned all Americans who have been convicted at the national level of possessing small amounts of marijuana.
Officials estimate about 6,500 people with federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana will benefit.
No-one is currently in federal prison solely for possession of marijuana. Most convictions occur at state level.
But the federal pardons will make it easier for people to get employment, housing, and education, Mr Biden said.
As a presidential candidate, Mr Biden promised to decriminalize cannabis use, as well as expunging convictions.
"Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit," Mr Biden said on Thursday.
He added that non-white people were statistically far more likely to be jailed for cannabis.
As a White House candidate, Mr Biden was criticized for writing a 1994 crime bill that stiffened penalties for drug crimes and led to more incarceration of minorities.
The Democratic president said he would call upon all state governors to issue their own marijuana pardons.
He is also directing the Department of Justice and the Department of Health to review how cannabis is classified under federal law.
"We classify marijuana at the same level as heroin - and more serious than fentanyl," said Mr Biden. "It makes no sense."
This article was originally published by bbc.com
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