President Biden is pardoning all prior federal offenses of straightforward possession of marijuana, the White House introduced Thursday, though senior officers burdened to reporters that there are at the moment no folks at the moment in federal prisons solely for easy possession of marijuana. The president can also be asking the Health and Human Services secretary to assessment how marijuana is classed beneath federal legislation.
In addition, the president is urging all governors to pardon state offenses of straightforward marijuana possession. Liberals have lengthy pressed Mr. Biden to legalize hashish. The announcement, which falls in need of legalization, comes barely a month out from aggressive midterm elections that can decide management of the House and Senate.
“As I often said during my campaign for president, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” the president mentioned in a press release. “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 mentioned he is directed Attorney General Merrick Garland to develop a course of to concern certificates of pardon to eligible Americans, a transfer to assist relieve the results for many who may very well be denied housing or employment. He can also be asking HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to assessment and rethink marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification meant for probably the most harmful substances.
“This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD, and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic,” the president mentioned.
The president nonetheless desires limitations on the trafficking, advertising and underage gross sales of weed to remain in place.
“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” Mr. Biden mentioned. “It’s time that we right these wrongs.”
The transfer away from punishment for marijuana possession is a shift for Mr. Biden. As vp, he staunchly opposed the drug. In 2010, he instructed ABC News, “I still believe it’s a gateway drug,” and legalizing it might be “a mistake.”
— Gaby Ake contributed to this report. This is a creating story.
Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital primarily based in Washington, D.C.