POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Biden pardons thousands convicted of marijuana charges

Dec 22, 2023, 4:17 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2023, 1:45 pm

FILE - A demonstrator waves a flag with marijuana leaves depicted on it during a protest calling fo...

FILE - A demonstrator waves a flag with marijuana leaves depicted on it during a protest calling for the legalization of marijuana, outside of the White House on April 2, 2016, in Washington. President Joe Biden is pardoning thousands of people who were convicted of use and simple possession of marijuana on federal lands and in the District of Columbia. The White House says his action Friday is his latest round of executive clemencies meant to rectify racial disparities in the justice system. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden pardoned thousands of people who were convicted of use and simple possession of marijuana on federal lands and in the District of Columbia, the White House said Friday, in his latest round of executive clemencies meant to rectify racial disparities in the justice system.

The categorical pardon builds on a similar round issued just before the 2022 midterm elections that pardoned thousands convicted of simple possession on federal lands eligible. Friday’s action broadens the criminal offenses covered by the pardon. Biden is also granting clemency to 11 people serving what the White House called “disproportionately long” sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.

Biden, in a statement, said his actions would help make the “promise of equal justice a reality.”

“Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” Biden said. “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

No one was freed from prison under last year’s action, but the pardons were meant to help thousands overcome obstacles to renting a home or finding a job. Similarly, no federal prisoners are eligible for release as a result of Friday’s pardon.

Judge: Banning guns for marijuana users unconstitutional

But the order expands the grounds on which pardons are issued. In the last round, people were pardoned for simple possession under only one criminal statute. Friday’s pardons also apply to several other criminal statutes, including attempted simple possession.

Biden’s order applies only to marijuana, which has been decriminalized or legalized in many states for some or all uses, but remains a controlled substance under federal law. U.S. regulators are studying reclassifying the drug from the category of drugs deemed to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” known as “Schedule I,” to the less tightly regulated “Schedule III.”

The pardon also does not apply to those in the U.S. unlawfully at the time of their offense.

Biden’s proclamation effectively pardons the covered people, but they will need to submit applications to the Justice Department’s pardon attorney office to receive certificates of pardon that can be used for housing and employment purposes.

Biden on Friday reiterated his call on governors and local leaders to take similar steps to erase marijuana convictions.

“Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely due to the use or possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” Biden said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Politics & Elections

The Supreme Court decided Friday to uphold a federal gun control law that is meant to protect victi...

Brian Carlson

Supreme Court upholds gun law intended to protect domestic violence victims

The Supreme Court decided Friday to uphold a federal gun control law that is meant to protect victims of domestic violence. The law prevents people with a domestic violence restraining order from having a gun.

9 minutes ago

Recount observers watch ballots during a Milwaukee hand recount of Presidential votes at the Wiscon...

Ken Ritter, Associated Press

Fake elector case in Nevada dismissed over venue question, state attorney general vows appeal

A Nevada judge has dismissed a criminal indictment against six Republicans accused of submitting certificates to Congress falsely declaring Donald Trump the winner of the state’s 2020 presidential election.

20 minutes ago

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, talking about the proposed changes that are happening to downt...

Carole Mikita and Michael Houck, KSL TV

‘This plan is ambitious’: Salt Lake County Mayor Wilson talks about the revitalization of Salt Lake City

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson spoke to KSL TV about all the proposed changes that could hit downtown Salt Lake City.

20 hours ago

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. apologized to members of his family who objected to a new TV ad released Sund...

Meg Kinnard, Associated Press

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. fails to qualify for CNN’s debate

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has failed to qualify for next week’s debate in Atlanta. Host network CNN said Thursday the independent presidential candidate fell short of benchmarks both for state ballot qualification and polling

1 day ago

Protestors gather outside the House chambers during a legislative special session at the Utah State...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Utah lawmakers vote to block federal protections for LGBTQ+ students under Title IX

Utah lawmakers convened in a special session on Juneteenth to declare the state's intent not to follow a federal rule providing anti-discrimination protections to transgender youth.

2 days ago

Tuesday February 9, 2006. Photo by Scott G. Winterton / Deseret Morning News.The Ten Commandments m...

Sara Cline, Associated Press

New Louisiana law requires that The Ten Commandments must be displayed classrooms

Louisiana has become the first state to require that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Biden pardons thousands convicted of marijuana charges