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420 with CNW — Biden Issues Proclamation Pardoning All with Minor Cannabis Convictions

Cannabis News Wire, Media Partners

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President Joe Biden recently issued a proclamation extending full and unconditional pardons to individuals previously convicted in the United States for the use or possession of cannabis. Simultaneously, he exercised executive authority to commute the sentences of 11 individuals serving excessively long terms for nonviolent drug offenses. These offenses included possession with the intent to distribute small quantities of methamphetamine (meth) and cocaine.

In a released statement, President Biden emphasized the imperative of ensuring equal justice under the law. He underscored the consensus among elected officials from both political spectrums, faith leaders, civil rights advocates and law enforcement figures. The common ground was the belief that the criminal justice system should genuinely reflect the fundamental value of enhancing community safety and resilience.

Regarding the commuted sentences, Biden highlighted the disproportionately lengthy penalties handed down for nonviolent drug offenses. He pointed out that if these individuals were charged with the same offenses today, they would be eligible for significantly reduced sentences.

Concerning the pardoning of convictions related to the simple possession and use of cannabis, Biden expressed his conviction that too many lives had been adversely affected by what he termed the nation’s flawed marijuana policies. He deplored the adverse impact of criminal records for cannabis use and possession on education, housing and employment opportunities, characterizing it as a time to rectify these injustices. Additionally, he urged state governors to follow suit in addressing state-level offenses related to cannabis.

The pardons specified in the proclamation exclusively pertain to convictions for the simple possession and use of cannabis. They do not extend to other offenses involving different controlled substances or activities beyond the basic possession of cannabis, such as possession with the intent to distribute or driving offenses under the influence of marijuana.

There has been ongoing discussion about easing federal cannabis restrictions. In August, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) recommended the easing of cannabis restrictions by reclassifying it as a Schedule III drug, a departure from its current Schedule I classification by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Despite changing attitudes toward cannabis with most states allowing its use either recreationally or for medical purposes, the DEA continues to categorize it alongside substances such as LSD and heroin as a Schedule I drug.

Biden’s recent actions align with his broader approach to clemency, having previously granted clemency to 31 individuals convicted of drug-related offenses in April. Notably, during his 2020 campaign, Biden advocated for the automatic expungement of cannabis use convictions, reflecting a consistent commitment to reforming marijuana-related policies.

Advocates may be getting impatient with the rate at which these reforms are being made, and they wonder how long it will take for the federal government to make the changes necessary to bring the country at par with jurisdictions in Canada where entities such as Canopy Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: CGC) (TSX: WEED) operate.

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