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US President Biden pardons thousands convicted of marijuana possession, calls for review of federal law

US President Joe Biden commuted the sentences of thousands of people found guilty of marijuana possession under federal law and declared that his administration would reevaluate marijuana’s legal classification in light of narcotics like heroin and LSD. 

Everyone who has been found guilty of simple possession on federal charges since the 1970s will be exonerated thanks to the pardons. Officials said that complete data was not accessible, but they did mention that, excluding lawful permanent residents, around 6,500 people were found guilty of simple possession between 1992 and 2021

The pardons will also apply to anyone who has received drug-related convictions in the District of Columbia, which authorities expect to number in the thousands.

People who have been found guilty of marijuana distribution or sale will not be eligible for pardons. Furthermore, according to officials, no one is currently serving time in a federal jail for marijuana possession alone.  However, the change will make it easier for people to obtain housing, apply for a job, attend college, or receive federal benefits. 

In addition to the pardons, Biden also declared that he has directed Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to start evaluating marijuana’s classification under federal drug laws.

According to federal drug punishment rules, marijuana is now classified as a Schedule I drug, making it “more harmful than fentanyl” and as well as heroin and LSD,” stated by president  Biden. 

The announcement illustrates the gradual shift in public opinion in America toward a laxer approach to marijuana regulation, which began with states recognising the drug for medical use before expanding to encompass legalising the recreational use of marijuana. 

However, Biden has taken longer to accept the idea than most people his age, often mirroring their opinions. According to a 2021 Pew survey, only 31% of those aged 75 and older favoured legalising cannabis for adult use; in all other age groups, the majority backed legalization.

Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, a pro-legalization organisation, stated in a statement that “many of the actions taken and advocated by the president today are long overdue.” 

We praised President Biden for conducting on his promise today and urge governors to follow suit in order to let the tens of thousands of Americans who have received state-level penalties for marijuana-related offences in the past finally go on with their lives.

Ahir Mitra
Ahir Mitra

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