President Biden’s Pardons

Breaking Down President Biden’s Announcement

President Biden recently announced sweeping marijuana reform. We get into the weeds of what it does - and doesn’t - mean.

AROYA is committed to being a resource for commercial cannabis cultivators – that’s why we regularly track the news for stories that we think growers in the industry should know about. 

And since President Biden’s recent announcement on marijuana reform is as unprecedented as it gets, we wanted to dig a little deeper.

The Announcement

On October 6, 2022, President Biden announced that he will be taking the following 3 steps toward Federal cannabis reform:

1. Pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession.

2. Urging all Governors to do the same for state-level offenses.

3. Asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process of reviewing marijuana’s scheduling under federal law

Breaking It Down

President Biden’s announcement directly impacts roughly 6,500 people who were previously convicted of simple cannabis possession, but are not currently serving time in prison. The pardon effectively removes the felony from their records and ensures their conviction no longer has the effect of blocking access to things like employment, housing, and federal loans.

The pardon does not however release the thousands of prisoners serving time in federal prison for higher level cannabis offenses, or the estimated 30,000+ people in state prisons for marijuana crimes. The President’s announcement reinforces that it’s up to the Governors in individual states to decide whether to follow his lead, but otherwise doesn’t indicate how these reform efforts will ultimately impact prisoners convicted of cannabis crimes other than simple possession.

Getting federal agencies to initiate a review of marijuana’s Schedule 1 status in the Controlled Substances Act – a higher classification than for Schedule 2 drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine – represents an opportunity for the plant to be re-classified based on research and reality. And once that happens the industry could finally see an end to Section 280E of the tax code, which prevents cannabis companies from making the same tax deductions as other businesses.

Why This Is A Big Deal

The President had a great deal to say about cannabis decriminalization and criminal justice reform while on the campaign trail, but progress had been minimal – up to this point.

Though the announcement may fall short of what activists, advocates, and entrepreneurs had hoped for, it does represent the most sweeping cannabis reform ever proposed. And the fact that it could motivate states with their own reform measures will go a long way toward positive social change.

There’s no going back now! 


Statement from President Biden on Marijuana Reform,, October 6, 2022

Sharon Bernstein, “Explainer: Marijuana pardons in U.S. help thousands, leave others in prison",, October 8, 2022

Exactly how many people are locked up for weed?",

Chris Roberts, “How Biden’s rescheduling of marijuana could affect the US industry”,, October 14, 2022

Drug Fact Sheet: Marijuana/Cannabis,

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