Compliance Update – Presidential Proclamation for Marijuana Possession

October 20th, 2022 | Chris Christian, Director of Compliance

On October 6, 2022, President Biden issued A Proclamation on Granting Pardon for the Offense of Simple Possession of Marijuana 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. 

The proclamation states that 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. The proclamation applies only to simple possession of marijuana offenses, and as such, conspiracy, distribution, possession with intent to distribute, and other charges involving sale of marijuana are not pardoned by the proclamation. With respect to scope, the pardon applies if the qualifying offense occurred on or before October 6, 2022, even if a conviction has not been obtained by that date.  The proclamation does not have any effect on marijuana possession offenses occurring after October 6, 2022. 

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.

The President has asked the Attorney General, acting through the Pardon Attorney, to issue to eligible 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. More information will be forthcoming from the Attorney General once it has developed the procedures for pardon applications.

As of the time of this update, there is no indication that public record repositories will be updated with information regarding pardons. Employers may want to review their screening programs and consult with counsel on how they want to address employees and candidates who have been pardoned under this proclamation. Employers may also want to review their screening policies with respect to adjudication of marijuana offenses.  Sterling will continue to provide updates as more information is known about the pardon process. The Information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Sterling is not a law firm, and none of the information contained in this notice is intended as legal advice. Clients are encouraged to consult with their legal counsel about the impacts of any requirements. This and other important legislative updates can be found on the Sterling website:

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.