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In an unexpectedly bold move, today President Biden pardoned all people burdened with federal convictions for simple cannabis possession. The pardons will apply to about 6,500 people who were convicted on federal charges from 1992 to 2021 and clear thousands more who were convicted of possession in Washington DC. President Biden also promised that his administration will review whether cannabis should still be a Schedule 1 drug.

In an official statement, the president explained his thinking, “As I often said during my campaign for President, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.  And while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”

The president went on to urge 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. He ended on a high note, saying, “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana.  It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

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