Biden's Pardon of Federal Marijuana Possession Will Have Little Real Impact

Weeks before midterms, President Joe Biden takes steps to fulfill his campaign pledge of erasing federal marijuana charges and decriminalizing the drug.

The pardon: On Thursday, Biden pardoned all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession, meaning possession of a controlled substance for personal use with no intent to sell.

Who does it affect? There is not a single American in federal prison solely for simple possession of marijuana; most convictions are at the state level. Still, the administration noted that this pardon would directly affect around 6,500 Americans convicted of the charge and have criminal records concerning employment, housing, and educational opportunities.

The move toward federal decriminalization: Federally, marijuana is still in the same classification category as heroin and LSD. Biden is now pressuring the Department of Health and Human Services to review the drug’s classification in efforts to decriminalize marijuana on a federal level.

Big picture: One month before midterms, Biden is making strides to fulfill a popular campaign promise—72 percent of Democrats (and 47 percent of Republicans) believe that marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use. He also nodded to racial politics, claiming his efforts would correct, in his view, racially oppressive marijuana laws.'

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