US President calls on state governors to do the same and declares ‘no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana’
Joe Biden has pardoned thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law.
The US President ordered a review of the classification of the drug as Schedule 1, and called on governors to issue similar pardons for state-level convictions – the majority of marijuana possession cases.
The move that is being seen as a step towards dicriminalising the drug, as well as tackling charging practices that disproportionately impact people of colour.
In a statement, Mr Biden said “no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana”.
He added: “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”
The move is expected to clear about 6,500 people who were convicted on federal charges of simple possession between 1992 and 2021, and thousands more in the District of Columbia, The New York Times is reporting.
It will not apply to any convictions relating to possessing marajuana with intent to distribute. Non-US citizens who did not have legal status in the country at the time of their arrest will not be pardoned. No other drugs are covered by the move.