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President Joe Biden pardoned thousands of individuals convicted of possessing marijuana.
On Thursday, the President admitted to something many of us have known for years, that the current system “makes no sense.”
“Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit,” Biden said in a statement. “Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. 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.”
More than 6,500 individuals with prior convictions for simple marijuana possession received pardons. Many more convictions were pardoned under D.C. law.
Biden’s announcement stops short of full decriminalization but signaled hope to those who have long been lobbying for the herb to be legalized.
Pardons will not be extended to those who were not U.S. citizens or to those who were illegally in the country at the time of their arrest. The president added that statutes limiting the trafficking, marketing and sales of marijuana to minors would not change.
With the November midterm elections looming, the news could not have come at a better time. During his presidential campaign, Biden pledged to take on the unjust system.
“No one should be in jail because of marijuana. As president, I will decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions,” he said at the time.