Gov. Inslee proposes pardons for misdemeanor pot crimes

Gov. Inslee speaks to a group at the Cannabis Alliance annual conference in Seattle. (Office of Governor photo)
On Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced his Marijuana Justice Initiative to provide pardons for certain people who have convictions on their record for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

“We shouldn’t be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal in Washington state,” said Inslee, as he announced the initiative at the annual Cannabis Alliance conference. “Forgiving these convictions can help lessen their impact and allow people to move on with their lives. It’s a small step, but one that moves us in the direction of correcting these injustices.”

Some groups have advocated that marijuana possession misdemeanors are not fair because the behavior the legalization of recreational marijuana means the incident would not be considered illegal today.

A misdemeanor conviction can can make it difficult to get housing, employment, student loans, credit, and even participate in a child or grandchild’s school field trip. The governor hopes that be pardoning the marijuana possession conviction in certain cases, those barriers can be reduced, if not eliminated.

 Under the initiative, Inslee plans to use his constitutional clemency authority to pardon individuals who have a single conviction on their criminal record. That sole conviction must be for an adult misdemeanor marijuana possession, prosecuted under state law in Washington. The conviction must have occurred between January 1, 1998 and December 5, 2012, when I-502 legalized marijuana possession.

Anyone with an adult misdemeanor marijuana possession who believes they qualify for a pardon can submit a petition online. The Office of the Governor will review the case and confirm whether the conviction is eligible. If Inslee pardons the conviction, Washington State Patrol will then be asked to remove the offense from public criminal history reports.

Visit the Marijuana Justice Initiative webpage: www.governor.wa.gov/marijuanajustice.

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