President Biden recently announced thousands of pardons for people convicted of marijuana possession at a federal level. “I am announcing a pardon of all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana…There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.” The pardons will clear the records of around 6,500 Americans, allowing them easier employment and even voting rights in states like Florida, where felons have restricted access to voting. Although no one is currently in federal prison for marijuana possession – the federal government stopped prosecuting the charge in 2016 – President Biden urged state governments to issue similar pardons in their own jurisdiction. Perhaps more significantly, President Biden also announced his intention to “look into” rescheduling marijuana from a schedule I drug to a lower classification, which could potentially decriminalize it federally, and even trigger decriminalization in many states. If he follows through with this move, President Biden would remove a massive burden from millions of Americans – disproportionately minority groups.
While the President can’t change state laws, he has direct influence over federal law. Even…