President Joe Biden has granted pardons to thousands of individuals convicted of marijuana use and simple possession on federal lands and in the District of Columbia, according to a statement from the White House on Friday. This move, part of his ongoing effort to address racial disparities in the justice system, expands upon a prior round of pardons issued just before the 2022 midterm elections.

The latest categorical pardon extends to a broader range of criminal offenses compared to the previous action, aiming to rectify the consequences of past convictions. Additionally, Biden is offering clemency to 11 individuals serving what the White House deems as excessively long sentences for nonviolent drug-related crimes.

In his statement, Biden emphasized the need to eliminate the barriers that criminal records for marijuana use and possession create, hindering access to employment, housing, and education. He expressed a commitment to correcting these injustices, describing it as an essential step toward achieving equal justice.

Last year’s pardons didn’t result in anyone being released from prison, but they aimed to assist thousands in overcoming hurdles in their lives. Similarly, Friday’s pardon won’t lead to the release of federal prisoners. However, it broadens the scope of eligible criminal statutes, including attempted simple possession, compared to the previous round.

It's important to note that Biden's pardon specifically focuses on marijuana-related offenses, a substance that, while legalized or decriminalized in numerous states, remains classified as a controlled substance under federal law. Efforts are underway to reevaluate its classification from Schedule I to Schedule III, a less restrictive categorization.

Furthermore, this pardon doesn’t apply to individuals who were unlawfully in the U.S. at the time of their offense. Those covered by the pardon will need to apply to the Justice Department's pardon attorney office to obtain certificates of pardon for housing and employment purposes.

Biden also urged governors and local leaders to follow suit in addressing marijuana convictions, emphasizing that no one should be incarcerated solely due to marijuana use or possession, whether at the federal or state level.



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