Biden to Pardon Federal Marijuana Possession Convictions

Photo: Associated Press [via The New York Times]

The Facts

  • Pres. Joe Biden has pardoned thousands convicted of simple cannabis possession in the US in a move that, according to estimates, will overturn the criminal records of roughly 6.5k people.

  • The pardon only applies to those convicted of the low-level offense of simple possession, while people imprisoned for trafficking, sales, or other marijuana-related charges will not benefit. The White House has clarified that nobody is currently detained in federal prison for simple possession alone.

The Spin

Democratic narrative

Finally, a president has recognized the problem of mass marijuana incarceration in the US. This should be a measure of hope that Democrats will, with the support of the majority of Americans, legalize marijuana and put an end to needless criminalizing and discriminatory law enforcement.

Republican narrative

Biden is gifting criminals a blanket pardon in the midst of a crime wave and the brink of a recession. Many of these offenders pled down from more serious charges, and this "radical" move is just a desperate attempt to distract from failed leadership and score political points in the lead-up to the midterms.

Nerd narrative

There is an 80% chance that marijuana will be legal for recreational use in a supermajority of strongly Republican US states before 2041, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

Public figures in this story

Political split



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