By Au’mario Landrum
On Oct. 6, 2022, President Biden pardoned thousands of people convicted of federal marijuana possession charges. The pardon does not apply to people convicted of distributing or selling marijuana or convictions under state or local law but it does apply to federal conviction. Biden encouraged governors to follow his lead and pardon those convicted on state charges of simple possession. Note that state level convictions far outnumber federal ones. President Biden said during the briefing, “Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.” All of which are probable implications of having any charge on one’s record. The foreseeable impact of the pardon is only good. Biden said, “…while white and black, and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
Under President Biden’s pardon, individuals with qualifying convictions are fully and completely pardoned for their marijuana possession offense. The pardon is only for possession of marijuana and will not impact any existing charges or convictions. Currently the Attorney General is to issue those who qualify to be pardoned certificates to establish proof of pardon. The Office of the Pardon Attorney is currently working to develop procedures in issuing the pardons to eligible individuals in the near future. Expect the Office of the Pardon Attorney to make a short application available for individuals seeking a certificate of pardon, along with instruction for completing the application.
Note, that this pardon does not apply to convictions under state law, although it does apply to convictions under the District of Columbia criminal code. Also, President Biden’s pardon can only apply to offenses that occurred on or before Oct. 6, 2022. Meaning, any offenses going forward are expected to be on one’s record.