Presidential Proclamation on Marijuana Possession

On October 6, 2022, President Biden issued a presidential proclamation that pardons federal convictions for simple marijuana possession offenses. The proclamation applies only to federal convictions, including D.C. Code offenses, and does not apply to convictions under state or local law.  

Read the proclamation here

Read the President's statement 

Read the Department's statement

What does this mean for those with federal marijuana possession convictions?   

Under President Biden’s proclamation, individuals with qualifying convictions are fully and completely pardoned for their marijuana possession offense. The pardon applies only to the qualifying offense of simple possession of marijuana and not to any other offense(s) for which the individual has been charged or convicted. 

What is a pardon? 

A pardon is an expression of the President’s forgiveness. It does not signify innocence or expunge the conviction. It does, however, remove civil disabilities—such as restrictions on the right to vote, to hold office, or to sit on a jury—that are imposed because of the pardoned conviction. It may also be helpful in obtaining licenses, bonding, or employment.   

How can I prove that I have been pardoned? 

Eligible persons may need proof that President Biden’s proclamation applies to them in order to achieve the full benefits of a pardon. The President has asked the Attorney General, acting through the Pardon Attorney, to issue those persons certificates to establish proof of pardon. The Office of the Pardon Attorney is currently working to develop procedures for issuing certificates of pardon to eligible individuals in the near future.   

How can I get a certificate of pardon?   

In the near future, the Office of the Pardon Attorney will make available a short application form for individuals seeking a certificate of pardon, along with instructions for completing the application. We will make this form available as quickly as we can. Please check back here soon for further announcements.  

When can I apply for my certificate of pardon? 

We cannot accept applications or issue certificates of pardon until our official procedures have been announced. We will update this page as soon as we have additional information to provide. We encourage you please to check for additional guidance in the near future.    

Does the proclamation apply to convictions under state law?  

No. President Biden’s proclamation does not pardon convictions under state law, although it does apply to possession of marijuana convictions under the District of Columbia’s criminal code.  

Does the proclamation apply to all types of federal marijuana offenses?  

No. President Biden’s proclamation applies only to simple possession of marijuana offenses. Conspiracy, distribution, possession with intent to distribute, and other charges involving marijuana are not pardoned by the proclamation.  

Do I qualify for a pardon if I was convicted under 21 U.S.C. § 844 of possessing marijuana and another drug in a single offense?  

No. The proclamation does not apply to persons who were convicted of possessing multiple different controlled substance in the same offense. For example, if you were convicted of possessing marijuana and cocaine in a single offense, you do not qualify for pardon under the terms of President Biden’s proclamation. If you were convicted of one count of simple possession of marijuana and a second count of possession of cocaine, President Biden’s proclamation applies only to the simple possession of marijuana count, not the possession of cocaine count.  

Does the proclamation apply to charges that are currently pending as of October 6, 2022? 

Yes. President Biden’s proclamation applies if the qualifying offense occurred on or before October 6, 2022, even if a conviction has not been obtained by that date.  

Does the proclamation protect me from being charged with marijuana possession in the future? 

No. The proclamation pardons only those offenses occurring on or before October 6, 2022. It does not have any effect on marijuana possession offenses occurring after October 6, 2022.  

Updated November 2, 2022

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