Headline RoundupOctober 6th, 2022

Biden Pardons All Federal Offenses of Simple Marijuana Possession

AllSides Summary

President Joe Biden said he would pardon everyone convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law on Thursday. 

The pardons will reportedly impact over 6,500 people with prior convictions, none of whom are currently in prison or jail. “Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives – for conduct that is legal in many states,” Biden said in a statement. “That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs.”

Biden also called on governors to take the same action at the state level, saying, “no one should be in a local jail or state prison” for simple marijuana possession. Furthermore, Biden directed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to review marijuana’s federal status as a “Schedule I” drug, saying, “We classify marijuana at the same level as heroin – and more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense.”

Coverage was initially balanced and prominently featured across the spectrum. Sensational headlines and taglines were rampant on homepages, including “Reefer Madness” in Fox News (Right bias) and “Biden Goes Big on Marijuana” in HuffPost (Left bias). Meanwhile, USA Today (Lean Left bias) called the pardons a “historic move,” and Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias) called them a “Midterm Hail Mary.” Update 10/7/22 2:52 p.m.: Clarified that none of those impacted by the pardons are currently in jail, according to The Washington Post (Lean Left bias). 

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