Last month, hundreds of thousands of lives were changes for the better when President Joe Biden granted pardons to more than 6,500 people charged with federal marijuana possession convictions. The pardons were only applicable to federal charges, not state or local charges, and they only applied to simple possession of marijuana charges, not to any other convictions that offenders may have been charged with. All pardoned individuals will be issued a certificate of pardon to applicants approved by the Pardon Attorney working under the Attorney General.
Those wishing to apply for a federal pardon from the Office of the Pardon Attorney for federal marijuana possession charges should fill out a simple application online, even if the charge is still pending. Again, this is only for simple marijuana possession charges and does not apply to other controlled substances, or for charges that include conspiracy, distribution, possession with intention to distribute, or possession charges in conjunction with any other charges.
Many states almost immediately began to follow suit and have started to issue mass pardons and expungements for low-level cannabis charges. NORML estimates around 2 million will be granted pardons, based on current convictions at state levels. NORML, which is a group that provides a voice to Americans seeking to legalize responsible marijuana use for adults, has been tracking and fighting for the rights of marijuana users since 1970. They are currently the largest and oldest marijuana legalization organization in the country.
Currently, states that are already providing pardons or will be providing pardons in the near future due to the President’s proclamation, include Nevada, Washington, Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Oregon, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Florida, California, New Jersey, New York, and Arizona. There have also been cities whose governors have done the same, such as New Orleans and Cleveland, among others, but the state itself has not yet announced plans for pardons or expungements.
As is expected, the exact specifications to qualify for these pardons or expungements varies from one location to the next, and various degrees of charges may be pardoned. Some states are granting expungements for all misdemeanors for marijuana possession and distribution charges, where others are following the federal government’s lead and only granting pardons for simple possession charges. If you have been charged with any marijuana-related misdemeanors, please check with your local state courts to see if you are eligible for to have your charges pardoned or expunged!
While there are talks of other states joining in this movement and discussing specific terms and qualifications, there are no definitive answers as to whether other governors will pass this reform. NORML and other cannabis reform advocate groups will continue to fight for the rights and freedoms of cannabis and marijuana users across the nation, and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish next!