(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden on Thursday announced he is taking executive action to pardon Americans who’ve been convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law.
The action will benefit 6,500 people with prior federal convictions and thousands of others charged under the District of Columbia’s criminal code, according to senior administration officials.
“No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden said in a statement outlining the administration’s new actions. “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,” Biden continued. “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.”
Biden is also urging governors to do the same for individuals with state convictions and is requesting Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to expeditiously review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.
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