President Joe Biden on Friday issued a proclamation expanding a marijuana pardon initiative he began last year by including for the first time people who committed cannabis possession offenses on federal properties.
“Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” Biden said in a statement. “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”
“Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely due to the use or possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” the president continued.
He is also calling on governors “to do the same with regard to state offenses and applaud those who have since taken action.”
The expanded pardon proclamation comes as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is considering a recommendation to reschedule cannabis to Schedule III under a recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services that stemmed from a review that Biden initiated last year in conjunction with his initial marijuana clemency move.
While advocates have welcomed the president’s actions on marijuana, they have critically pointed out that his cannabis-focused pardons have not released anyone from prison and exclude large groups of people, including immigrants and those with convictions for selling marijuana.
Friday’s expanded proclamation notes that it, like its predecessor, “does not apply to individuals who were non-citizens not lawfully present in the United States at the time of their offense.”
Biden on Friday also commuted the sentences of 11 people who are serving long sentences for drug offenses.
“I have exercised my clemency power more than any recent predecessor has at this point in their presidency. And while today’s announcement marks important progress, my Administration will continue to review clemency petitions and deliver reforms that advance equal justice, address racial disparities, strengthen public safety, and enhance the wellbeing of all Americans.” (Full Story)