Biden is also calling on governors to issue similar pardons for those convicted of state marijuana offenses.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden pardons thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal lawas his administration moves to decriminalize drugs and eliminate charging practices that disproportionately affect people of color.

Biden’s move also applies to thousands of people with felony convictions in the District of Columbia. It also urges governors to issue similar pardons for those convicted of state marijuana offenses, which represent the vast majority of marijuana possession cases.

Biden said in a statement that the move reflects his position that “no one should go to jail just for using or possessing marijuana.”

“Too many lives have been turned upside down because of our failed approach to marijuana,” he added. “It’s time to correct these mistakes.”

According to the White House, no one is currently in federal prison solely for “simple possession” of drugs, but the pardon could help thousands overcome barriers to renting or finding work.

“There are thousands of people with prior marijuana possession convictions who may be denied employment, housing or educational opportunities as a result,” he said. “My actions will help remove the side effects that stem from these beliefs.”

Biden is also ordering the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Attorney General to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. Carrying the drugs would reduce or potentially eliminate criminal liability for possession.

But Biden said he believes that as the federal government and many states relax marijuana laws, they should maintain restrictions on the sale, marketing and sale to minors.

Biden’s move puts the federal government in line with other major cities, such as New York, that have moved for years to decriminalize low-level marijuana arrests. But there is a wide disparity across the country, with some police departments still believing the drug leads to more serious crimes and ignoring minor offenses emboldens criminals.

The move also fulfills one of the Democratic nominee’s top priorities in one of their party’s most critical Senate races, as Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has repeatedly urged Biden to make the move.

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