courtroom gavel conviction expungement seal

Can President Biden Pardon Cannabis Offenses?

Washington (November 10, 2021) – United States Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) sent a letter urging President Joseph R. Biden to use his executive authority to pardon all individuals convicted of federal non-violent cannabis offenses.
America’s cannabis policies have long punished Black and Brown communities, and these policies are increasingly out of step with the views of the American public:
  • Nearly 7 in 10 Americans believe that cannabis should be legalized.
  • Eighteen states, two territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use, all in the past decade.
  • Twenty-seven states—ranging from New York to North Dakota—plus D.C. have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis.
  • Thirty-six states, three territories, and D.C. have allowed for the medical use of cannabis.
  • A number of tribal governments have legalized cannabis for various purposes.
As a candidate for President, President Biden argued that “we should decriminalize marijuana” and “everyone [with a marijuana record] should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out.” President Biden has the authority to pardon broad classes of Americans to correct widespread injustice, as previous Presidents have done.
“Our country’s cannabis policies must be completely overhauled, but you have the power to act now: you can and should issue a blanket pardon for all non-violent federal cannabis offenses, fulfilling your promises to the American people and transforming the lives of tens of thousands Americans,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to act swiftly on behalf of the countless Americans punished by the country’s senseless cannabis laws.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
Early last month, Senators Warren and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) urged Attorney General Merrick Garland of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to decriminalize cannabis by removing the drug from the Federal controlled substances list.