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President Biden pardons all federal simple marijuana charges. What does this mean?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

Yesterday, President Biden announced that he will pardon all simple marijuana federal charges. This marks a huge step in his presidency, as this was a significant point in his campaign, but it also sets Democrats up to prepare for upcoming midterm elections. 

According to CNN, as overseen by the Justice Department, thousands of individuals who have been charged will receive a certificate saying that they have been absolved. In addition, Biden urged all governors to follow and pardon all state-level charges. Officials explained that there is no one in prison for simple marijuana charges. Those convicted of selling and distributing marijuana have been strategically cut out of this conversation.  

Just weeks from the midterm elections, this announcement was a final push from the Biden administration. The president campaigned on providing justice when it comes to drug charges. This move can be seen as a last-minute effort to get young voters, specifically young Black voters, to return to the polls. 

This is a small step forward in ending the war on drugs. As states have moved to legalize the recreational and medical use of marijuana, many voters have long awaited a federal move toward legalization. This is more of a move towards decriminalization, meaning no one can be charged with the crime.

States have become more progressive with their drug laws. Nineteen states, plus Guam and Washington, D.C., have made recreational marijuana legal. Oregon decriminalized all drugs back in 2020. The federal shift has been more slow-moving, with this being one of the first moves forward.

Biden went a step further by addressing the scheduling of the drug. Drugs are put on the schedule based on how likely they are to be abused. The ranking goes from one to five, with one being the most likely to be abused.

“We classify marijuana at the same level as heroin – and more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense. I’m asking @SecBecerra and the Attorney General to initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law,” Biden said in a Tweet.

It is uncertain as to what Biden’s next steps may be when it comes to drug policy, but this is a key step for Biden and provides justice to thousands of people.

“Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives – for conduct that is legal in many states. That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs,” Biden tweeted.

Hi! I'm Cleo and I am a junior at American University. I am studying journalism and graphic design. For hcau I am a social media director, writer, and designer <3