Biden administration officially opens pardon request application for federal offenses of simple marijuana possession

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By Devan Cole, CNN

(CNN) -- Individuals eligible for President Joe Biden's pardon of all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession can now begin applying for a "certificate of proof" showing that they have been officially forgiven for their crime, the Justice Department announced Friday.

The online application, which is run through the Office of the Pardon Attorney's website, "allows eligible persons to submit documentation to the Office of the Pardon Attorney and receive a certificate indicating the person was pardoned on Oct. 6, 2022, for simple possession of marijuana."

In order to qualify for a pardon, you had to have been charged or convicted with simple possession of marijuana before October 6 by either a federal court or DC Superior Court. Qualifying individuals also had to be a US citizen or lawfully present in the US both at the time of the offense and when Biden issued the pardon last year.

CNN previously reported that officials said there are currently no Americans serving prison time solely on federal simple marijuana possession charges. But they said the number who had been charged with that crime was north of 6,500.

The DOJ noted in its announcement on Friday that the president's pardon does not apply to state marijuana convictions. As part of last year's announcement, Biden encouraged governors to take similar steps to pardon state simple marijuana possession charges, a move that would potentially affect many thousands more Americans.

Though Biden's move last year represented the first significant step taken by a US president toward removing criminal penalties for possessing marijuana, it stopped short of full decriminalization, which has enjoyed growing support among both political parties.

"No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana," Biden said last year when he announced the pardon. "It's legal in many states, and criminal records for marijuana possession have led to needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And that's before you address the racial disparities around who suffers the consequences. While white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people are arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates."

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