January 14, 2024

White House Pardons Simple Possession Charges for Marijuana

On October 6, 2022, President Biden issued a proclamation pardoning certain individuals who committed or were convicted of the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

On December 22, 2023, that proclamation was expanded, granting a full, complete, and unconditional pardon to all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who, on or before the date of the proclamation, committed or were convicted of the offense of simple possession of marijuana, attempted simple possession of marijuana, or use of marijuana, regardless of whether they have been charged with or prosecuted for these offenses on or before the date of this proclamation.

The proclamation applies to federal charges and does not pardon convictions under state law. Crimes beyond those listed in the proclamation are not pardoned. Conspiracy, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute are not pardoned by the proclamation. Offenses with additional elements such as driving while under the influence of marijuana or possession in a correctional facility are not pardoned by the proclamation.

The proclamation pardons only those offenses occurring on or before December 22, 2023. It does not have any effect on offenses occurring after December 22, 2023. 

President Biden stated that convictions for simple possession of marijuana have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.

This proclamation is further evidence that the nation continues to grow more tolerant of marijuana. At this time, 38 states have legalized medical marijuana, with 24 states having legalized recreational marijuana. These numbers may increase as some states could address the issue in 2024 legislative sessions.

While some states have established rules for pardons, employment rights and restrictions regarding marijuana use, and more, it is clear that the overall direction of marijuana progress continues to be forward.

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