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What does the Executive Order on Federal Cannabis Possession Cases mean for Texans?

Federal Pardon

People have lots of different opinions about cannabis, but whatever you believe about the dark green plant with the earthy scent, there are laws somewhere based on your interpretation.  To say that, in 2022, cannabis laws are contradictory and confusing is an understatement.  How can the same drug be both so harmless that anyone can buy it over the counter and more dangerous than fentanyl?  In September 2022, President Biden issued an executive order that aims to remedy the damage caused by the excessively punitive federal cannabis policies of previous decades, as well as to clear the path toward reforming cannabis laws at the federal level.  If you are being accused of federal crimes involving cannabis or another drug, contact our offices to assess your case.

According to federal law, cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance, which means that it is never legal for medical use.  Heroin is also a Schedule I controlled substance.  By contrast, Schedule II controlled substances have one or more legally recognized medical uses, even though their abuse potential is very high.  Fentanyl and cocaine and Schedule II controlled substances, which means that federal law considers cannabis, which is legal for recreational use in several states, more dangerous than fentanyl, which causes more overdose deaths than any other drug.

The executive order grants a pardon to all defendants convicted in federal courts and D.C. courts since 1992 on charges of simple possession of cannabis.  It applies to at least 6,000 defendants.  It does not apply to cases involving cannabis distribution or trafficking, nor does it apply to cases prosecuted in state court.  None of the defendants to whom the pardon applies are currently incarcerated, so the executive order is not causing anyone’s immediate release from prison.

Even after the executive order, cannabis is still a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level.  The executive order does, however, instruct the Department of Justice and Department of Health to review their cannabis policies.  This could lead to a change in the classification of cannabis in federal law. So how does the Executive Order affect defendants in Cannabis Cases in State Court?  If you were convicted of cannabis possession in a Texas state court, your conviction still stands.  Whether you are fighting current charges or applying for a pardon or expungement, you need to do it through the Texas courts.

Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC about your federal drug charges. Cannabis laws are changing, even in states as famous for being tough on crime as Texas, but an old conviction for cannabis possession can still cause plenty of disruptions in your life.  A criminal defense attorney can help you fight charges of manufacturing and distribution.

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