Home Info Newsroom Biden Offers Pardons for Pot Possession, Signals Deeper Reform for U.S. Cannabis Laws

Biden Offers Pardons for Pot Possession, Signals Deeper Reform for U.S. Cannabis Laws

Authored By: Lewis Wood on 10/7/2022

Source: Associated Press

President Joe Biden is pardoning people convicted under federal law of possessing marijuana — and signalling that he's willing to revisit whether cannabis should remain a controlled substance in the United States.

In a pre-recorded video released unexpectedly Thursday by the White House, Biden announced three key steps that he is taking "to end this failed approach" to cannabis laws in the U.S.

In addition to the pardons, which could affect more than 6,500 people with federal convictions, Biden said he wants governors to consider a similar move at the state level, where the numbers are vastly higher.

But it's the third step that could prove the most seismic: an administrative review of why cannabis remains a so-called Schedule 1 substance in the U.S., a classification that includes harder drugs like heroin and LSD.

"I am asking the secretary of health and human services and the attorney general to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law," Biden said.

Schedule 1 is an even higher classification than that for fentanyl and methamphetamine, he added — "the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic."

Credit unions have closely watched the debate around cannabis and cannabis-related businesses. Many had hoped to see some resolution on the SAFE Banking Act of 2021, legislation at the federal level generally prohibiting a federal banking regulator from penalizing a depository institution for providing banking services to a legitimate cannabis-related business. Virginia is set to allow retail sales of cannabis in 2024.

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