Explainer-US pardons cannabis to help thousands of people, sending others to jail According to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks after a visit to IBM in Poughkeepsie, New York, U.S., October 6, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

By Sharon Bernstein

(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden pardons thousands of Americans convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law has profound effects, experts and individuals say, even if it affects reach fewer people than similar state and local initiatives. Biden has called on governors to issue similar pardons related to state marijuana offenses.


Biden’s pardons announced October 6 affect approximately 6,500 people convicted of marijuana possession crimes at the federal level. No one stays in prison. With no felony on their record, they won’t stumble when applying for a job or trying to rent an apartment. Research by the American Civil Liberties Union has shown that black Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.


Biden’s pardon does not affect the roughly 3,000 people convicted of higher-profile marijuana use offenses who are in federal prisons and about 30,000 who are still in prison in several states, according to the advocacy group. The ultimate prisoner project. Those numbers do not reflect those with convictions for marijuana possession at the state level, although about 2 million marijuana convictions have been expunged or pardoned by states where the drug is available. This is now legal.


Biden has called for similar pardons from governors in their states, where most possessions are prosecuted.

Kevin Sabet, an opponent of marijuana legalization who runs the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said in an interview that he thinks Biden’s pardons could close. serves as a role model for governors in conservative as well as some liberal countries, who oppose deregulation but agree that users should not go to jail.

Cannabis is now completely legal in 19 US states and is allowed for medical use in 37. Most states that have legalized marijuana have also moved to delete records of nonviolent offenders or issue an amnesty.

But thousands of people continue to be arrested for marijuana use every year. Data are hard to come by, but NORML estimates that around 350,000 people have been arrested for cannabis-related offenses in 2020, of which about 91% are for possession only. According to the ACLU, of the 8.2 million marijuana seizures in the US between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for possession of marijuana alone.


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