**FILE** President Joe Biden (Photo by Mark Mahoney)
**FILE** President Joe Biden (Photo by Mark Mahoney)

President Joe Biden has issued a pardon to all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession, fulfilling a campaign promise of getting rid of possession convictions and loosening the drug’s federal classification.

“Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit,” Biden said in a statement.

“Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” the president continued.

“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.”

Biden vowed to encourage governors to take similar steps to pardon state simple marijuana possession charges.

According to a Pew Research survey, wide majorities of Black adults support legalizing marijuana at least for medical use (85%).

The survey found that most favor reforms to the criminal justice system, such as releasing people from prison who are being held only for marijuana-related charges and expunging marijuana-related offenses from the criminal records of individuals convicted of such crimes (74% each). According to FBI data, Black adults are disproportionately likely to be arrested for marijuana-related offenses.

Researchers at Pew noted that, although non-Hispanic, single-race Black and White Americans used marijuana at roughly comparable rates in 2020, Black people accounted for 39% of all marijuana possession arrests in the U.S. despite being only 12% of the U.S. population.

Further, in a separate study, Pew noted that police officers made about 663,000 arrests for marijuana-related offenses in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2018, amounting to 40% of the 1.65 million total drug arrests in the U.S. that year (the most recent for which data is available).

The second-largest category of drug arrests involved “other” drugs (29%), followed by heroin, cocaine, or their derivatives (25%), and synthetic or manufactured drugs (6%).

The District counts among the growing number of places where marijuana use is legal.

Biden’s actions grant full, complete, and unconditional pardons to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have committed or been convicted of simple possession violating the Controlled Substances Act.

The U.S. Justice Department praised Biden’s announcement.

“The Justice Department will expeditiously administer the President’s proclamation, which pardons individuals who engaged in simple possession of marijuana, restoring political, civil, and other rights to those convicted of that offense,” department officials wrote in a statement.

“In the coming days, the Office of the Pardon Attorney will begin implementing a process to provide impacted individuals with certificates of pardon.

“Also, in accordance with the president’s directive, Justice Department officials will work with our colleagues at the Department of Health and Human Services as they launch a scientific review of how marijuana is scheduled under fe

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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1 Comment

  1. Cannabis consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide Federally Now!

    The “War on Cannabis” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our yearly tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Cannabis”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. Especially now, due to Covid-19. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Cannabis has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records. Especially, if they happen to be of the “wrong” skin color or they happen to be from the “wrong” neighborhood. Which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Cannabis is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less cannabis “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Cannabis Legalization Initiative!

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