US President Joe Biden has announced that he will pardon those convicted at the federal level of simple possession of cannabis. He also announced that he would ask the United States Attorney General, Merrick B. Garland, and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, to begin the process of reviewing the classification of cannabis in the United States. federal level.
The official statement from the White House was released Oct. 6, noting that under current federal law, cannabis falls under Schedule I alongside deadly drugs like fentanyl. The White House will “promptly review” the current classification of the plant, with potential consequences for the classification of cannabis in international treaties and among friendly countries.
“As I’ve said before, no one should be jailed for using or possessing cannabis,” Biden tweeted. “Today I am taking action to end our failed approach. Allow me to expose them”.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 6, 2022
Joe Biden presented three key points: to pardon all previous federal offenses of simple possession of cannabis; asking governors to pardon state offenses of simple possession of cannabis; and finally, to ask the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, and the Attorney General, Merrick B. Garland, to begin the process of reviewing how cannabis should be classified under federal law. .
The amnesty ruling will affect approximately 6,500 people who were convicted of simple possession of cannabis between 1992 and 2021, and thousands more convicted in the District of Columbia. The majority of those convicted of simple possession, however, were convicted at the state level, hence Joe Biden’s request to governors to erase convictions for this same offense at their level.
Various observers of American cannabis policy believe that Joe Biden has done the maximum in his power for non-violent convictions for possession of cannabis, the federal government not having the capacity to intervene on this subject at the state level. He also respects one of his campaign promises, on the eve of the mid-term elections.
Joe Biden is credited with drafting the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, commonly known as the 1994 Crime Bill, an essential component of the war on drugs in the United States which led to the incarceration of countless citizens for possession of drugs.
A quarter century later, Joe Biden has publicly denounced his own record: ‘It was a mistake,’ he said of his Crime Bill during one of the presidential debates. “The 100 senators voted for. It was a mistake. I have tried to change it ever since, especially the part about cocaine,” he added. “I argued that actually we shouldn’t send anyone to jail for a pure drug offence, they should get treatment. […] It was a mistake to pass these drug laws. »
The official White House statement ends with these words: “Too many lives have been disrupted by our failed approach to cannabis. It’s time to fix those mistakes. ”