The US moved closer to the elusive goal of marijuana legalization on Thursday as President Joe Biden pardoned thousands of individuals with prior federal convictions.

Along with federal offends convicted of marijuana possession, President Biden has directed US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to review marijuana’s classification in federal drug laws.

“Federal law currently classifies marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the classification meant for the most dangerous substances,” Biden said in a statement. “This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD, and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic.”

Biden also urged all state governors in the United States to follow suit. “Just as no one should be in a Federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason either.”

As I often said during my campaign for President, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.


The statement notes that trafficking, marketing and underage sales laws “should stay in place.”

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”