President Biden announced Thursday that he will pardon all individuals convicted on federal marijuana possession charges, a move that the White House estimated would affect more than 6,500 people.
The move, which many Democratic activists have been calling for, comes roughly a month before the midterm election that will decide whether the president’s party can hold onto control of Congress.
“As I said when I ran for President, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden said.
“It’s legal in many states, and criminal records for marijuana possession have led to needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” he continued. “And that’s before you address the racial disparities around who suffers the consequences. While white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people are arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
Biden called on all governors to follow his example and said that he would ask the attorney general and Department of Health and Human Services to review marijuana’s classification in federal law as a schedule one drug, the same classification as heroin and LSD.
The White House released the news while Biden was in upstate New York touting IBM’s investment in a plant that will make semiconductors.