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Biden Expands Pardons for Marijuana Possession


Delaware just became the 22nd state to legalize recreational marijuana.
Cannabis plants. (MIS Photography)


Today, President Biden issued a proclamation granting pardons to all people who committed or were convicted of “simple marijuana possession” under federal and District of Columbia law. This is an admirable step in the right direction. But, as Reason’s C.J. Ciaramella explains, it’s only a modest expansion of a marijuana possession pardon initiative Biden undertook last year, when he pardoned all US citizens and permanent residents who had committed the offense of simple marijuana possession under the federal Controlled Substances Act and DC law up to that point.

As Ciaramella notes, the new proclamation expands pardons to certain offenders convicted of possession on federal lands. I would add that it also covers anyone who committed the relevant offenses in the fourteen months since Biden’s previous pardons (which only covered people who had committed them up to early October of last year). Also, unlike last year’s pardons, this year’s also covers people who committed the DC offense of “attempted simple possession of marijuana,” which is a distinct crime from actual possession. Not sure why this wasn’t included in the October 2022 proclamation. Perhaps it was an oversight.

Like last year’s marijuana pardons, this year’s probably won’t actually free anyone from…

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