Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

President also calls for review of cannabis classification, possible removal as Schedule 1 controlled substance

By Miriam Raftery

October 9, 2022 (Washington D.C.) – President Joe Biden on October 6 issued a proclamation pardoning thousands of people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal. 

The pardons are limited to possession of small amounts of marijuana; pardons were not issued to those convicted of drug sales, manufacturing, or possession of drugs other than marijuana. They also do not apply to non-citizens present illegally when the offense occurred.

The pardons do not include state crimes, though Biden urged state governors to issue pardons for state civil crimes of simple marijuana possession. The pardons

“Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit,” Biden said in a statement. “Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.”

Biden noted racial disparities in enforcement.  Although black and white people use marijuana at approximately equal rates, black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, according to a 2020 study by the American Civil Liberties Union.

At least 37 states have legalized medical marijuana and 19 have legalized recreational adult use, with another five states voting on recreational legalization in the 2022 midterm elections.

The President also called on the Health and Human Services Department and the Department of Justice to review how cannabis is scheduled, which could potentially lead to removing it as a schedule 1 controlled substance, currently in the same category as heroin, a far more dangerous and addictive drug.  Reclassification could open the door to research on medical applications of cannabis.

The cannabis industry is projected to reach $32 billion in sales this year, New Frontier Data estimates. Recent polls have found a strong majority of Americans favor legalization of cannabis use.


Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.