We Will Defend And Protect Your Rights

What does Biden’s pardons for marijuana possession charges mean?

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2022 | Drug Offenses

Social injustice is rampant in the prison system. Most drug arrests and convictions are for marijuana possession. An American Civil Liberties Union study found that the police arrest Black people for possession at nearly four times the rate of white people. However, Black people make up less than 14% of the population compared to the 75% who are white.

On Thursday, October 6th, President Biden issued a pardon for anyone previously charged with federal marijuana possession crimes. Though federal prisons no longer house anyone convicted of simple possession, many consider the president’s decision a step in the right direction.

How does a pardon benefit someone with a prior conviction?

Anyone convicted of a felony drug crime has a criminal record that stays with them for at least five years. The record impacts the individual’s life, creating barriers to housing, jobs and loans. It can also hurt divorce and child custody outcomes, relationships and overall well-being. Biden’s pardon removes the obstacles and may allow some to renegotiate child custody decisions.

Does Biden’s decision include people convicted of distributing or selling cannabis?

Biden’s decision does not include federal convictions for intent to sell or distribute. Anyone with an intent-to-sell or distribute conviction is stuck with their record and must serve any remaining time in their sentences.

Is marijuana still illegal?

Though states are increasingly legalizing marijuana, it is still a Schedule I drug, meaning it is illegal. However, many hope Biden’s decision puts the federal government one step closer to decriminalizing and eventually legalizing cannabis.

Those interested in racial justice in the prison system take heart in Biden’s move to pardon prior possession convictions. However, there is still a long way to go to eradicate the injustices of the justice system for Black people and other minorities.