By Ada Osadebe
President of the United States, Joe Biden has pardoned thousands of Americans convicted of marijuana possession, claiming it is not a crime to process drugs.
He made this known via his Twitter handle, in a major new step towards de-stigmatizing the drug and fulfilling a promise to his supporters a month before midterm elections.
In addition to the pardons, Biden instructed the departments of justice and health to determine whether cannabis should be reclassified as a less dangerous substance.
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US officials told reporters that about 6,500 people are directly affected by convictions under federal marijuana statutes. Clemency will extend to thousands more convicted under laws in the federal capital, Washington.
However, Biden’s gesture aims to take the shift much further, putting pressure on state authorities everywhere to follow suit.
“I am urging all governors to do the same with regard to state offences. Just as no one should be in federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” Biden said.
“Today, I’m taking steps to end our failed approach. Allow me to lay them out.”
“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana.”
“Today I announced a pardon of all prior federal offences of simple possession of marijuana, urged governors to do the same, and asked HHS and DOJ to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.”
“I am announcing a pardon of all prior federal offences of simple possession of marijuana.”
Biden did not call for fully decriminalizing cannabis, saying that “limitations on trafficking, marketing, and underage sales should stay in place.”