President Expands Cannabis Pardons, Commutes Sentences for Nonviolent Marijuana Offenses
President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The 11 commutations were granted to people "serving disproportionately long" sentences for nonviolent crimes.

President Joe Biden on Friday expanded the bucket for cannabis pardons to include anyone convicted of simple possession, attempted possession, and use of marijuana on federal land, including the District of Columbia.

In the same statement, Biden also commuted the sentences of 11 people who he identified as “serving disproportionately long sentence for nonviolent drug offenses.”

The move builds on his 2022 plan to pardon all prior federal offenses of simple possession.

“I am issuing a proclamation that will pardon additional offenses of simple possession and use of marijuana under federal and D.C. law,” the president said in a statement.

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

According to the Associated Press, no individuals were released from federal prison under the first action, and none will be eligible for release this time, either. However, the action will clear thousands of convictions from criminal records.

The pardons only apply to federal convictions, however, the president also called on governors to also take action to provide relief for state offenses. The proclamation also does not apply to people in the U.S. unlawfully at the time of the offense.

Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier

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