WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is pardoning thousands of people who were convicted of use and simple possession of marijuana on federal lands and in the District of Columbia, the White House said Friday, in his latest round of executive clemencies meant to rectify racial disparities in the justice system.
Biden is also granting clemency to 11 people serving what the White House called “disproportionately long” sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
Biden said his actions would help make the “promise of equal justice a reality.”
“Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” Biden said. “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”
The categorical pardon issued Friday builds on his categorical pardon issued just before the 2022 midterm elections that made thousands convicted of simple possession on federal lands eligible for pardons. The White House said thousands more would be eligible under Friday’s action.
Biden reiterated his call on governors and local leaders to take similar steps to erase marijuana convictions.
“Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely due to the use or possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” Biden said.