Biden overhauls U.S. policy on marijuana, pardons prior federal offenses

Biden overhauls U.S. policy on marijuana, pardons prior federal offenses

Biden overhauls U.S. policy on marijuana, pardons prior federal offenses By Reuters

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(C) Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden listens to a guest doctor speak during a meeting of the Reproductive Healthcare Access Task Force in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

By Jeff Mason and Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden on Thursday took executive action to change U.S. policy on marijuana, pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession.

“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,” Biden said in a statement. “My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.”

Biden’s actions fulfill a campaign promise and are likely to please members in his left-leaning political base ahead of the November midterm elections in which Biden’s fellow Democrats are defending their control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Biden said he had directed Attorney General Merrick Garland to develop an “administrative process” to issue certificates of pardon to those who are eligible.

The president also said he was urging state governors to follow suit.

“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,” he said.

Biden said he was asking federal officials to start a review process of how marijuana is “scheduled”, or classified, under federal law. Presently it falls under the same classification as heroin and LSD and in a higher classification than fentanyl and methamphetamine, he said.

“Finally, even as federal and state regulation of marijuana changes, important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and under-age sales should stay in place,” Biden said.

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

Biden overhauls U.S. policy on marijuana, pardons prior federal offenses

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