“Though symbolically important, the president’s general pardon for simple marijuana possession and related offenses was destined to have a marginal impact.”
By Erik Luna, Arizona State University & Weldon Angelos, The Weldon Project
On October 6, 2022, President Joe Biden issued a historic general pardon for all previous crimes of simple marijuana possession in violation of federal law and the D.C. Code, both of which are misdemeanors. A few weeks ago, the president extended the general pardon to cover offenses for marijuana use and attempted simple possession, which are also misdemeanors.
In all likelihood, the most important part of the president’s October 2022 action wasn’t the general pardon, but instead his ordering an administrative review of marijuana’s treatment under the federal government’s master drug scheme, the Controlled Substances Act. As just confirmed last week, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s scientific evaluation supports rescheduling marijuana—from a federal regime of absolute prohibition (Schedule I) to one of medical prescription pursuant to federal regulations (Schedule III)—which is now under final review by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Over the course of more than a year, President Biden has touted his general pardon as an example of “keeping my promise” on campaign pledges to decriminalize marijuana, to free incarcerated marijuana offenders and to expunge marijuana convictions. “My Administration…