US President Biden on Thursday has announced plans to pardon all prior federal convictions of simple possession of marijuana.
Biden also urged governors to follow his lead for people convicted on state charges of simple possession as the number of convictions under state laws outweighs those who have been charged with a violation of federal laws.
Around 6.500 people convicted from 1992 to 2021 will benefit from the decision, according to a New York Times report, quoting US officials.
‘No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,’ Biden said.
‘There are thousands of people who have prior federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result,’ he added.
‘My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions,’ Biden stressed.
According to the White House, no one is currently in federal prison for ‘simple possession’ of marijuana.
Biden also called for states to implement the same measure.
‘I am urging all governors to do the same with regard to state offenses,’ he said. ‘Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either.’
The pardon does not apply to people non-citizens who did not have legal status at the time of their arrest, or to those convicted of intent to distribute the drug.
Biden has also directed health and justice officials to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.
Currently, federal law classifies marijuana in a group that includes drugs such as heroin and LSD. In fact, marijuana leglaizatoin advocates have pointed out how marijuana is classed one category higher than the one that covers highly addictive narcotics such as fentanyl and methamphetamine.
That might change now, with official government sanction.
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