Advertisement

Updated December 23rd, 2023 at 13:58 IST

Biden pardons thousands for Marijuana offences, commutes sentences for non-violent drug crimes

While Biden has stopped short of endorsing full federal marijuana legalisation, he has consistently voiced support for decriminalisation.

Digital Desk
US President Joe Biden.
US President Joe Biden. | Image:AP
Advertisement

President Biden on Friday took a significant step towards reforming marijuana policy and addressing racial disparities in the justice system. He issued a proclamation pardoning individuals convicted of "additional offenses" related to marijuana possession and use under federal and D.C. law, and also commuted the sentences of 11 people serving lengthy terms for non-violent drug offenses.

This latest action builds on Biden's previous pardon of thousands convicted of simple marijuana possession last year. "Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana," the president stated. "It's time that we right these wrongs."

Advertisement

Here is what you need to know

Friday's proclamation expands the scope of pardons to cover additional marijuana-related offenses, encompassing a broader range of individuals impacted by the current criminal justice system.

Advertisement

Alongside the pardons, Biden announced the commutation of sentences for 11 individuals serving "disproportionately long sentences for non-violent drug offenses." Four of these individuals were facing life sentences for cocaine distribution. According to a report from Axios, the president emphasized that "all of them would have been eligible to receive significantly lower sentences if they were charged with the same offense today."

These actions align with Biden's campaign promise to utilize clemency power for non-violent and drug crimes. He noted that he has "exercised my clemency power more than any recent predecessor has at this point in their presidency."

Advertisement

Legalization vs. Decriminalization 

While Biden has stopped short of endorsing full federal marijuana legalization, he has consistently voiced support for decriminalization. In 2020, he pledged his backing for this policy shift, and in 2022, he directed the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate reclassifying marijuana from its current Schedule I status (alongside heroin) to Schedule III.

Advertisement

The Department of Health and Human Services recommended reclassification earlier this year, and now the Drug Enforcement Administration holds the ultimate decision. Marijuana Moment reports that several Democratic governors recently urged the U.S. to move forward with reclassification by the end of 2023.

Biden's actions on Friday demonstrate his commitment to addressing the injustices of the war on drugs and reforming marijuana policy. The pardons and commutations offer relief to individuals unfairly impacted by the current system, while the ongoing reclassification discussions hold the potential for broader change in the future.

Advertisement

Published December 23rd, 2023 at 13:58 IST

Your Voice. Now Direct.

Send us your views, we’ll publish them. This section is moderated.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Whatsapp logo