Biden announces blanket federal pardon for simple pot possession convictions – there’s just one problem …

President Joe Biden on Thursday unilaterally pardoned all prior federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana in a move that critics suspect was a last-minute gambit to buy votes for Democrats going into the midterm elections.

“I am announcing a pardon of all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana. I have directed the Attorney General to develop an administrative process for the issuance of certificates of pardon to eligible individuals,” the president said in a statement.

“There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.”

There’s just one problem: “Officials said there are currently no Americans serving prison time solely on federal simple marijuana possession charges,” according to CNN.

And so nobody will be getting out of prison thanks to the president’s order.

Moreover, those who were convicted of a simple marijuana possession charge in the past will still retain the charge on their permanent record.

“While a presidential pardon will restore various rights lost as a result of the pardoned offense and should lessen to some extent the stigma arising from a conviction, it will not erase or expunge the record of your conviction,” according to the Department of Justice.

“Therefore, even if you are granted a pardon, you must still disclose your conviction on any form where such information is required, although you may also disclose the fact that you received a pardon,” the department notes.

The point is that the president’s order will engender few immediate tangible repercussions, which raises the question of its purpose.

Critics, for their part, believe the president is trying to buy the votes of mainly young voters who recreationally smoke marijuana.


That said, the president’s announcement did contain two additional orders.

In the second order, the president urged state governors to follow his lead and pardon state-level convictions for simple possession of marijuana.

“Second, I am urging all Governors to do the same with regard to state offenses. Just as no one should be in a Federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” the president said.

And in the third order, the president asked top administration officials to review marijuana’s current classification as a Schedule I drug.

“I am asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law,” he said.

“Federal law currently classifies marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the classification meant for the most dangerous substances. This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD, and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic.”

Based on these actions, many suspect the president’s moves are merely the first step toward him potentially decriminalizing or outright legalizing marijuana.

And indeed, in a tweet, the president said, “Today, we begin to right these wrongs.” This certainly suggests more orders may be on their way.

But not everybody agrees with this plan of action.

“In the midst of a crime wave and on the brink of a recession, Joe Biden is giving blanket pardons to drug offenders—many of whom pled down from more serious charges. This is a desperate attempt to distract from failed leadership,” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton argued in a tweet.

He did have a point. Sometimes criminals do plead down to simple possession. However, nobody who’d done so is currently in prison, so the point is admittedly kind of moot.


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Vivek Saxena


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