In December 2023, President Joe Biden issued pardons for specific federal cannabis convictions. As part of his commitment to undoing racial biases while ensuring equal justice for all Americans, he made good on his proclamation from 2022 regarding marijuana possession. But before cannabis enthusiasts count this as a victory, let’s take a look at what impact this may or may not have.
The Truth About Marijuana Possession
Several states have passed laws making marijuana legal. Depending on where you live, chances are you’ve noticed a sudden proliferation of cannabis dispensaries in your state. But just because marijuana is now legal in some places doesn’t mean you can do with it as you please.
Despite overwhelming public support for the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana, detractors continue to hold their ground, citing the increased likelihood of accidents due to driving under the influence and other causes for concern. Legitimate as these are, it remains to be seen whether they will have any effect on future legislation.
Regardless of the issue of marijuana’s legality, most people agree that easing the penalties for marijuana convictions is a good idea. Some even argue that removing the stigma around cannabis would make it less prone to abuse. The Biden administration takes this stance seriously, as proven in this latest political move.
Biden’s Marijuana Proclamations
In October 2022, Biden made his first proclamation regarding the simple possession of marijuana. In an effort to demystify the plant, he set a precedent for change by pardoning many cannabis convictions at the federal level. His message was clear: No one should be sitting in jail for using or possessing marijuana.
The December 2023 proclamation expanded on the terms of its predecessor by broadening the conditions under which one could receive a pardon. Even more historic was Biden commuting 11 prison sentences for people facing harsh punishments (including mandatory life sentences) for nonviolent drug convictions. The reasoning behind this move was that those behind bars would have faced lighter sentences if convicted for those same crimes today.
Despite being a step in the right direction for cannabis advocates, those same advocates would be the first to point out that most cases involving convictions for marijuana possession take place at the state level. As a result, the federal proclamation doesn’t apply to most everyday recreational cannabis users. Still, in his latest statement, Biden urged governors to extend his actions to their state jurisdictions.
What Lies Ahead for Cannabis Convictions
Crimes for marijuana possession vary in type and severity, but those falling under President Biden’s proclamation are relatively low-stakes. Even without the broad pardon, such cannabis convictions would rarely lead to a federal conviction. Therefore, it isn’t very likely to have any great effect on the big picture.
Unless state officials take notice and start implementing such measures in their own jurisdictions, we shouldn’t expect any dramatic shifts in policy for the time being. Even if that did happen, you might still need to be careful about carrying marijuana around. Acceptance at the political level doesn’t necessarily mean acceptance at the social level.
Whatever your take on this issue, you can be sure that those who have lost access to jobs, housing, and education due to criminal records over a simple possession welcome this political move. Of bigger concern is the fact that none of this affects convictions related to the sale of marijuana or driving under its influence. Decriminalization and fewer cannabis convictions might still seem quite a few legislative leaps away from becoming a reality, but supporters are hopeful.
Browse Quality Cannabis Products at Cannabis & Glass
At Cannabis & Glass, we keep our finger on the pulse of all things weed-related. We believe all people should have more choices when it comes to their recreational and medical needs. That’s why we’re proud to serve the people of Ontario, OR!
We hope you’ll come visit us in person to browse our inventory in flower, edibles, concentrates, and more for yourself and get answers to your questions about cannabis convictions and other topics. In the meantime, you can explore our Ontario dispensary menu online.