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February 13, 2024

Biden pardons more marijuana offenses in D.C., expanding 2022 clemency

initiative President Joe Biden has pardoned 8 individuals in the District of Columbia from federal marijuana offenses, as part of his continuing effort to address drug policy-related inequities and support criminal justice reform. The individuals who received pardons are all from the district and had been convicted of various offenses: possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine base, and operating a marijuana “grow house.” The pardons are part of Biden's broader commitment earlier this year to issue 2,000 clemency grants in 2022. Biden, who has already granted pardons to ten individuals since taking office in January, has called his clemency initiative “the most consequential in recent history” and has described it as a way to “assist Americans who have been disproportionally harmed by our criminal justice system.” This announcement is particularly significant because it builds on Biden's commitment to use the clemency power to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and it marks an important milestone in the national trend toward support for decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. The pardon recipients are still responsible for any local penalties associated with their marijuana convictions, but pardons can help erase potential negative impacts on employment, immigration status, and other areas of life in which a conviction on a federal charge can have a major impact. As more states move to legalize cannabis, it is important that those with prior marijuana convictions receive the relief they deserve. Biden's pardons are a clear signal that the administration supports meaningful criminal justice reform and recognizes the harmful impacts of the past decades' prohibition of marijuana.