Biden pardons all previous federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana

President Biden is pardon all prior federal offenses simple possession of marijuana, the White House announced Thursday, although senior officials told reporters that there are currently no people in federal prisons just for simple possession of marijuana. The president is also asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services to review the classification of marijuana under federal law.

Senior administration officials told reporters on Thursday that more than 6,000 people with previous federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana — and thousands more convicted under Washington, D.C. law — could benefit from it.

In addition, the president urges all governors to pardon state offenses of simple possession of marijuana. Liberals have long urged Mr. Biden to legalize cannabis. The ad, which is not up to par legalizationcomes barely a month after competitive midterm elections that will determine control of the House and Senate.

The president said he has asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to develop a process to issue pardon certificates to eligible Americans, a measure to help ease the consequences for those who may be denied housing or employment. It also asks HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to review and reconsider the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification intended for the most dangerous substances.

“It’s 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,” the president said.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic Senate candidate and Lt. Governor John Fetterman urged Mr. Biden to legalize cannabis. The White House contacted Fetterman earlier Thursday to inform him of the announcement, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

“As I have said many times during my presidential campaign, no one should be in jail simply for using or possessing marijuana,” the president said in a statement Thursday. He specifically denounced the disproportionate impact of such lawsuits on minority communities.

“Sending people to jail for possession of marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for behaviors that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for possession of marijuana have also imposed unnecessary barriers to employment, housing and educational opportunities brown people use marijuana at similar rates black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted and convicted at disproportionate rates.”

The president still wants the limitations on the trafficking, marketing and sale of weed to minors to remain in place.

“Too many lives have been disrupted because of our failed approach to marijuana,” Biden said. “It’s time we righted those wrongs.”

Dropping the marijuana possession punishment is a change for Mr. Biden. As Vice President, he is fiercely opposed to drugs. In 2010, he tells ABC News“I still believe it’s a gateway drug,” and legalizing it would be “a mistake.”

Gaby Ake and Kristin Brown contributed to this report.

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