The Beginning of Federal Legalization?

On October 6, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. issued, “A Proclamation on Granting Pardon for the Offense of Simple Possession of Marijuana,” one of the first serious steps towards the federal legalization of the cannabis plant.

This act will only apply to simple possession of cannabis United States Federal charges, not charges from any other municipality.

“Pursuant to this proclamation, the Attorney General, acting through the Pardon Attorney, shall administer and effectuate the issuance of certificates of pardon to eligible applicants who have been charged or convicted for the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, as currently codified at 21 U.S.C. 844 and as previously codified elsewhere in the United States Code, or in violation of D.C. Code 48–904.01(d)(1). The Attorney General, acting through the Pardon Attorney, is directed to develop and announce application procedures for certificates of pardon and to begin accepting applications in accordance with such procedures as soon as reasonably practicable. The Attorney General, acting through the Pardon Attorney, shall review all properly submitted applications and shall issue certificates of pardon to eligible applicants in due course.”

The MORE Act ( H.R.3617 – Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act) passed the House of Representatives on April 1, 2022, but has yet to have been heard in the Senate.

To recap this bill, H.R.3617 – Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, it removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.

The bill also makes other changes, including the following:

  • Replaces statutory references to marijuana and marihuana with cannabis,
  • Requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly publish demographic data on cannabis business owners and employees,
  • Establishes a trust fund to support various programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs,
  • Imposes an excise tax on cannabis products produced in or imported into the United States and an occupational tax on cannabis production facilities and export warehouses,
  • Makes Small Business Administration loans and services available to entities that are cannabis-related legitimate businesses or service providers,
  • Prohibits the denial of federal public benefits to a person on the basis of certain cannabis-related conduct or convictions,
  • Prohibits the denial of benefits and protections under immigration laws on the basis of a cannabis-related event (e.g., conduct or a conviction),
  • Establishes a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses, and
  • Directs the Government Accountability Office to study the societal impact of cannabis legalization.

The Biden Administration seems to be finally stepping up where cannabis legalization is concerned. Is this the beginning of the end of federal prohibition completely?

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