Biden asks governors to pardon marijuana convictions. Where do DMV leaders stand?

President Joe Biden announced on Thursday he will issue an executive order pardoning all people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law. In his announcement, he called on governors to issue similar pardons for simple state marijuana convictions. 

"As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Today, I’m taking steps to end our failed approach," Biden wrote. 

Where do your local leaders stand on marijuana? 


Virginia legalized marijuana in July of 2021, but with the caveat that retail sales aren’t scheduled to begin until 2024. In the meantime, Virginia residents are able to grow it themselves or receive as a gift from someone who does. 

In April, Governor Glenn Youngkin proposed an amendment to recriminalize public marijuana possession over four ounces. The proposal created two new misdemeanor crimes for possessing between two ounces and a pound of marijuana, raising the penalty from a $25 fine to possible jail time and fines ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. 

Youngkin said his proposal followed what other states have done in legalizing and regulating small amounts of recreational marijuana. 

"We weren't blazing a new trail here," he said to WTKR in April. "We were just putting in good governance as it's been seen in other states and recommended by a bipartisan commission."

But Virginia lawmakers remain divided on what to do about people currently imprisoned on marijuana charges. Legislation that legalized recreational marijuana left out resenting provisions, leaving the debate up in the air. 

The Virginia Department of Corrections said 10 people were serving sentences in which the most serious offense was marijuana as of January 2022. Another 560 people are serving sentences partially related to a marijuana offense but have also been found guilty of more serious offenses.


Recreational marijuana will be on the ballot for Maryland residents this election season. If Maryland votes yes to the ballot question - "Do you favor the legalization of adult-use cannabis in the State of Maryland?" - Maryland would be the 20th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Under the law that would be enacted if voters approved the legislation, past convictions for conduct made legal under the proposed law would be automatically expunged, and people currently serving time for such offenses would be eligible for resentencing. 

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has said he would not stand in the way of implementing marijuana legalization if voters approve the reform in November. But Republican candidate Dan Cox has consistently voted against efforts to decriminalize marijuana. 

According to a new survey, the majority of Marylanders are in favor of legalizing recreational cannabis. Nearly 3 in 4 registered voters are in favor, according to a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll. 

Washington, D.C. 

The District of Columbia legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2015. What remains illegal is the selling of marijuana — but gifting is allowed. The weed "gift shop" business in D.C. has grown across the city, where customers purchase knick-knacks and receive a free gift of marijuana. 

But Bowser argues D.C. remains limited in moving forward with "an equitable adult-use program" without DC statehood. 

"One of those limitations, and a reason President Biden’s pardons are especially important to our community, is that the Mayor of DC lacks the ability to grant pardons or commute sentences – a power that every state’s governor has," said Bowser.