United States President Joe Biden changed the nation’s stance on marijuana on Thursday by pardoning all prior federal charges for simple marijuana possession.

In a statement, Biden claimed that “thousands of people who have prior federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.”

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“I am announcing a pardon of all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana,” Biden’s statement added.

What is simple possession of marijuana?

Under federal law and in many state jurisdictions, the simple possession of drugs is illegal. “When someone has on his or her person, or available for his or her use, a small amount of an illegal substance for the purpose of consuming or using it but without the intent to sell or give it to anyone else,” is considered simple possession of drugs.

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According to federal law, simple drug possession is a misdemeanour punishable by a minimum $1,000 fine or a term of imprisonment of no more than one year, or both. However, if a person is convicted of simple possession after a previous drug-related conviction has been adjudicated, that person may face felony charges for the same offence.

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The legal limit for simple possession is 28 grams, or one ounce, of marijuana. A person who violates this provision with regard to twenty-eight grams or one ounce or less of marijuana or ten grammes or less of hashish is guilty of a misdemeanour and faces a maximum sentence of thirty days in jail or a maximum fine of two hundred dollars, depending on the amount involved.