On October 6, 2022, President Biden granted a full, complete, and unconditional pardon to all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been charged with or convicted for the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act or D.C. Code 48-904.01(d). This pardon, issued through a Presidential Proclamation, applies regardless of whether the citizen or lawful permanent resident has been charged with or prosecuted for this offense on or before the date of issuance, and restores to those with convictions their full political, civil, and other rights.

No other marijuana-related federal offenses, and no state charges for marijuana possession, will be affected as a result of President Biden’s Proclamation. Further, the pardon does not apply to individuals who were non-citizens not lawfully present in the United States at the time of their offense.

On the same day, President Biden announced his Administration’s intent to review the federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug. President Biden cited disproportionate enforcement of laws criminalizing possession of marijuana along racial lines and the “needless barriers” that resultant criminal records have imposed on employment, housing, and educational opportunities. President Biden requested that Governors follow suit in pardoning all state simple possession charges and initiated a review of the current classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug on par with heroin and methamphetamines.

Although the federal pardon is estimated to affect only 6500 individuals who received federal charges of simple possession between 1991 and today, along with several thousand others charged in Washington, D.C., the pardon nonetheless could have a positive impact on noncitizens who could otherwise face immigration consequences as a result of relatively low-level infractions. State pardons of state crimes and federal decriminalization or legalization of marijuana could further mitigate these consequences.

If you have questions or concerns relating to the immigration consequences of a criminal record for drug possession or other charges, please contact Stephen Antwine, Esq. of Green & Spiegel at (215) 395-8959 or at santwine@gands-us.com.

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