Can I Get A Pardon for a Federal Marijuana Possession Conviction?

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “What are the long-term effects of being convicted of a crime?”

Marijuana possession is a charge that can result in penalties that include fines and more. Even worse than the fines is the long-term negative impact that a felony conviction can have on your life. From trying to get an apartment to looking for employment to getting into college and beyond, a felony conviction can cause you plenty of turmoil. In a recent proclamation, President Biden officially granted pardons to offenders who were convicted on federal charges of simple marijuana possession.  The pardon affects thousands of people who were previously convicted of this crime in federal court.


What is Simple Marijuana Possession?

In short, simple marijuana possession is a charge in which you have no other charges, such as possession with intent to sell or trafficking. At the federal level, simple marijuana possession is currently under code 21 U.S.C. 844. The pardon will apply to those who have previously been charged or convicted of marijuana possession federally and those charged or convicted under D.C. laws. The pardon does not apply to state marijuana charges. Therefore, only a small number of people are likely eligible for a pardon under the current proclamation. The majority of drug charges, specifically simple marijuana possession, are brought under state laws.



Class I Drugs

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) defines and classifies various types of illegal substances. There are five classifications, called schedules, that define the types of drugs for the purpose of applying laws. Schedule V drugs are considered the least serious and have the lowest threat of abuse or addiction. Schedule I drugs are the most hazardous of all and include a number of very dangerous illegal substances, such as heroin and methamphetamines, among others. Marijuana is also included in this classification. As such, it carries a much more severe penalty than drugs with lower classifications.


Many people believe that marijuana should not be included in Schedule I drugs. By definition, Schedule I drugs do not have any currently accepted medical use. However, over the last decade, marijuana has been found to have some medical uses, such as relieving pain, reducing stress, and treating anxiety and PTSD, among others. The laws may need to be changed to reclassify marijuana into a category that better fits. Many states have already been legalizing marijuana for personal use and reducing the restrictions on the amount of marijuana you can legally possess.


Who Can Obtain a Pardon?

The pardon applies to those who were charged or convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law. The pardon does not apply to non-citizens who were in the U.S. illegally at the time of their offense. Although the pardon applies only to a very small group of people, President Biden encouraged governors to provide similar pardons and to make changes to the laws governing marijuana possession. The pardon is considered a step toward the legalization of marijuana across the country. If you meet the eligibility requirements for a pardon, you can submit an application. The Attorney General is working to create an application process, which he will announce once completed.


A drug conviction can leave you with problems that can last a long time due to your criminal record. If you have been charged with drug possession or other charges, you can seek justice through the courts. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.



Drug Scheduling (

A Proclamation on Granting Pardon for the Offense of Simple Possession of Marijuana – The White House


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