President Joe Biden has pardoned thousands of US citizens at national level who have been convicted for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The majority of marijuana convictions occur at state level, and according to US federal records, no-one is serving time in a federal prison for possession of marijuana.
Biden touted his decision, saying that the pardons will make it easier for those convicted to gain access to housing, credit and employment.
Biden said on Friday that “Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit.”
He said that marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 substance under federal drug sentencing guidelines, “the same as heroin and LSD — and more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense.”
The Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney will manage the administration of Biden’s proclamation, according to a White House statement.
A White House official said that over 6500 citizens have been impacted by the pardons. The pardon does not extend to those who were in the United States illegally when they were arrested.
The proclamation also formally restored to these individuals all the political, civil, and any other rights denied them due to having a criminal record.
“There are thousands of people who were convicted for marijuana possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result,” Biden said. “My pardon will remove this burden on them.”
“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” the president added. “It’s time that we right these wrongs.”
David Culver, who is vice president of government relations for Canopy Growth, issued a statement praising the decision.
“Today represents action from the Administration that we have been waiting for — an acknowledgement that cannabis prohibition has failed and that too many lives have been significantly impacted as a result.”
According to the ACLU, arrests for marijuana possession have disproportionately impacted people of color and low-income communities.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: CPR.ORG
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