Biden pardons simple federal marijuana possession crimes

As midterms are rapidly approaching, President Joe Biden took the first significant moves toward decriminalizing marijuana by granting pardons to thousands of citizens who had been found guilty of possessing the drug and requested a review of its legal status.

On Thursday, Biden offered a general pardon for all prior federal marijuana possession crimes. Senior administration sources said he would also urge governors to grant comparable pardons for marijuana-related state convictions.

According to White House officials, the pardons could impact more than 6,500 persons who were prosecuted with simple marijuana possession under federal law and thousands more under the DC Code. However, the officials also said nobody is in a federal jail only for having a small amount of marijuana.

Biden said, “Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit.”

He also claimed that people of color have been disproportionately arrested, prosecuted, and convicted.

Cannabis businesses would be impacted if the review Biden requests results in marijuana being taken off the list of the most dangerous drugs since they would then be able to bank, list on US stock markets, borrow money, and not have to worry about onerous tax responsibilities.

Although there is no indication of how long such a study may last, Biden’s request that the attorney general “initiate the process of examining how marijuana is scheduled under federal law” is encouraging for the industry.

Even states like California and Colorado, which legalized marijuana more than ten years ago, still struggle to implement effective rules, particularly when addressing issues like the underground market, high-potency THC products, and limiting access to the drug by minors.

Questions are raised regarding what will happen to legislative measures in the meantime in light of Biden’s statement and the likely length of the assessment. Regardless of whether marijuana is ever made more widely legal, the SAFE Banking Act, which would assist cannabis enterprises with banking, has a good chance of passing Congress.

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