Biden Pardons People Federally Convicted of Marijuana Possession

Joe Biden (

Jordan Wilson, Writer

On October 6th of, 2022, Biden passed a proclamation pardoning for the offense of simple marijuana possession. This pardoning only applies to United States citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Biden made a statement outlining a three-step plan created to put this proclamation into action.

First, Biden announced a pardon of all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana. He directed the Attorney General to develop an administrative process for issuing certificates of pardon to eligible individuals. Thousands of people have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession and may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities. His action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.

Second, he urges all Governors to do the same concerning state offenses. Just as no one should be in a Federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, he believes no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either.

Third, he is asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law quickly. Federal law currently classifies marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances
Act, the classification for the most dangerous substances. This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that Biden claims are driving our overdose epidemic.

Finally, he stated that even as federal and state regulation of marijuana changes, important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and underage sales should stay in place. He ended the statement by saying, “too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

Four people were asked for insight into this proclamation. An art teacher at Wheeler High School, Mr. Rembert, was interviewed first. He believes this proclamation was passed to gain political favor and appease the liberal base. He goes on to say that it makes sense that this proclamation was passed because too many people have been prosecuted for marijuana use, which has ruined many lives and prevented people from getting jobs. Alieu, a student at Wheeler High School, agrees that the proclamation was passed primarily for pandering to win the next election. On the other hand, he said he could also pass it because he wants marijuana to be legalized. Coach Rich, another teacher at Wheeler high school, agrees with this. He believes the government is trying to make up for its wrongdoings to black people because most people convicted for marijuana possession are black, despite the use being equal among all races.

Mr. Rembert, Art teacher at Wheeler High School (Jordan Wilson)

The way this proclamation will affect the economy is currently unknown. Everyone seems to agree that this proclamation will allow more people in the workforce, which is a positive for the American economy. Coach Rich also claims the proclamation can have a negative effect because America is already in debt, and federal prisons make America a lot of money.

While this proclamation is impactful, it only affects people federally convicted of marijuana possession. The same three people were asked whether they believed a proclamation like this would pass through the state legislature. Mr. Rembert gave a hard no, and Alieu said most likely not, especially in right-winged states. Coach Rich was more optimistic and believed that about 65% of states would pass a similar proclamation.

Coach Rich, Coach and teacher at Wheeler High School (Jordan Wilson)

This proclamation can hit close to home with many people with family or friends convicted of marijuana use. Mr. Rembert has a son convicted of marijuana use, so this proclamation impacts him. His son spent two months in jail but should have only got a misdemeanor. This is especially impactful to Coach Rich because someone close to him got deported and had their visa revoked because of petty marijuana use. They had no choice but to get deported, or they would have been in prison for over 20 years simply for marijuana use. In the end, everyone agreed that they were in 100% support of this proclamation. They believe no one should be convicted for a drug that does not kill people.

Overall, this proclamation seems to have a net positive effect on many lives and possibly the economy. Economically, this proclamation could also have an adverse effect.