Statement: Biden Administration Plans to Pardon Prior Federal Offenses of Simple Marijuana Possession

Today, the White House released a statement that President Joe Biden “will grant a pardon to all people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law” and “urged governors to take similar actions for state offenses of civil possession on marijuana.” Additionally, Biden took the first step necessary for Administrative rescheduling of marjiuna, directing the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to expedite review processes of how marijuana is considered under federal law. 

We applaud the Biden Administration for taking these incremental steps in the right direction toward ending the War on Drugs and the people who use them. America’s long-standing history of criminalizing drug users is an unjust political reality that affects everyone, and disproportionately affects Black, Brown, and poor people. Today, thanks to advancements on cannabis policy across the country and world, there are likely fewer people federally arrested or incarcerated solely for simple possession of marijuana than in the recent past. However, this step towards reforming the criminal legal system is one that should be commended. 

Biden’s further directive to expeditiously review marijuana’s classification in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is applauded by all who understand that the evidence demonstrates cannabis should be removed from the Controlled Substances Act entirely. Earlier this year, MAPS worked toward and then celebrated the appointment of a full slate of Commissioners to the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC). With a full slate of Commissioners to the United States Sentencing confirmed and today’s actions from President Biden, MAPS looks forward to an ongoing effort to reduce the disparities and penalties for all drug charges in the federal criminal justice system.

Ismail Lourido Ali, J.D., MAPS Director of Policy and Advocacy

Founded in 1986, MAPS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. MAPS is sponsoring the most advanced psychedelic therapy research in the world: Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. Since MAPS was founded, philanthropic donors and grantors have given more than $130 million for psychedelic and marijuana research and education. MAPS has earned both the Guidestar Platinum Seal of Transparency and a 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator.