Biden Pardons Thousands of Federal Marijuana Offenses


Ayan Rasulova

On October 6th, President Joe Biden pardoned all federal marijuana offenses involving the possession of the drug, marking the start of a new era of decriminalization.

As part of his announcement, he mentioned that along with the forgiving of these offenses, he would push for governors to pardon state offenses and work to change the classification of the drug, claiming on Twitter that classifying marijuana and heroin together “makes no sense.” In a video statement, he further voiced his opinions, stating that “No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. It’s legal in many states, and criminal records for marijuana possession have led to needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.” As a part of his decision, Joe Biden addressed the racial disparities involving the prosecution of marijuana as a part of his reasoning, showing his progressive attitudes towards America’s prejudiced drug prosecution process.

While Joe Biden has recently made statements about wanting to decriminalize the drug, he has not extended these views to completely legalizing the substance. Additionally, he believes that laws concerning the sale of the drug and sales to minors should remain untouched. Despite his stance, his actions are the most a United States president has taken towards changing legislation concerning marijuana.

His actions contrast with his prior thoughts on marijuana, however, as many staffers of the Biden administration lost their jobs or were demoted after the emergence of past marijuana use. Their drug use was discovered after background checks, but those being tested were allegedly told that admitting to smoking the substance would not have any negative consequences.

Biden’s announcement did not come without backlash, however. Senator Tom Cotton criticized him for being lenient with drug offenders “in the midst of a crime wave and on the brink of a recession.”

With midterms just around the corner, this decision will definitely be a significant part of the election, igniting arguments on the topic of marijuana decriminalization. While Biden does not intend to legalize marijuana, Pennsylvania lieutenant governor John Fetterman has made this a campaign promise while he runs for the Senate.