WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Thursday took executive action to change US policy on marijuana, pardoning all prior federal offences 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 mid-term elections next month 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.
Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2022