President Biden on Thursday pardoned thousands of people convicted of cannabis possession under federal law and said his administration would review whether cannabis should still be in the same legal category as drugs like heroin and LSD.
The pardons will clear everyone convicted on federal charges of simple possession since it became a crime in the 1970s. Officials said full data was not available but noted that about 6,500 people were convicted of simple possession between 1992 and 2021, not counting legal permanent residents. The pardons will also affect people who were convicted under District of Columbia drug laws; officials estimated that number to be in the thousands.
The pardons will not apply to people convicted of selling or distributing cannabis. And officials said there are no people now serving time in federal prisons solely for cannabis possession. But the move will help remove obstacles for people trying to get a job, find housing, apply to college, or get federal benefits.
Mr. Biden urged governors to follow his lead for people convicted on state charges of simple possession, who vastly outnumber those charged under federal laws.
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