US President Joe Biden has announced that will grant mass pardons to thousands of Americans convicted of basic marijuana possession offences at the federal level, adding that his government would work to decriminalise the drug.
According to Biden, too many lives have been upended because of failed approach to marijuana.
The pardons will only be granted to about 6,500 people who were convicted of federal marijuana possession-related offenses between 1992 and 2001, while state courts handle the majority of drug-related charges. In order to release state residents who have been convicted of offenses related to cannabis use, Biden urged American governors to act similarly.
Biden also said he will be ordering his administration to take additional steps to decriminalise the drug.
Currently, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, the same classification as heroin — an idea that “makes no sense,” the president said.
The President added that he will be directing Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland “to initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law” — the first step toward “remedying the harmful racist impact” of cannabis-related convictions, according to Democratic lawmakers who called for the drug to be descheduled almost a year ago.
The US President has spent much of his political career expanding the drug war and setting the basis for increased mass incarceration of Black and Brown communities. Most notably, he was a driving force behind the 1994 crime bill, which contained funds for states to build more prisons, encouraged governments to raise jail sentences, and encouraged police officers to make more drug-related arrests.