Biden pardons thousands of marijuana convictions


Biden pardons thousands convicted of minor federal marijuana offenses

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President Biden is pardoning thousands who were convicted of use and simple possession of marijuana in Washington, D.C. and on federal lands and in the District of Columbia, in executive clemencies that are intended to rectify racial disparities in the justice system.

The president is also granting clemency to 11 people “who are serving disproportionately long sentences for non-violent drug offenses,” he said in a statement Friday. He added that all of these individuals, had they been charged today with the same offenses, “would have been eligible to receive significantly lower sentences.” 

The White House said that the 11 individuals had been sentenced to decades in prison, some for life sentences. 

It also said that those with crack cocaine convictions “would not be serving the same sentences if they were convicted of a comparable powder cocaine offense,” and now the disparity in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine “is not supported by science, does not advance public safety, and disproportionately impacts Black communities.”  

Mr. Biden said his actions would help make the “promise of equal justice a reality.”

“Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” Biden said. “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

The categorical pardon issued Friday builds on his categorical pardon issued just before the 2022 midterm elections that made thousands convicted of simple possession on federal lands eligible for pardons. The White House said thousands more would be eligible under Friday’s action.

The president reiterated his call on governors and local leaders to take similar steps to erase marijuana convictions.

“Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely due to the use or possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” Mr. Biden said.