Washington Governor Pardons Thousands of Misdemeanor Marijuana Cases

Weed is currently legal in the state of Washington. And now, the nation is taking another progressive step forward with its cannabis related laws. Washington Governor Jay Inslee just announced a new program which will allow for people with prior marijuana convictions to have their records cleared. The move is aimed primarily at addressing injury caused by marijuana policing that disproportionately harmed communities of color.

Gov. Inslee’s New Initiative

Gov. Inslee allegedly introduced his new initiative before today. His announcement was part of the Cannabis Alliance annual conference in SeaTac, Washington.

According to the plan outlined by the governor, he will proceed to create a system in which adults with past marijuana offenses can have those fees pardoned.

This will effectively eliminate the offense from peoples’ records. Therefore, it has the capacity to assist individuals with prior charges gain increased access to jobs, housing, student loans, and many other social services.

“We shouldn’t be penalizing people for something that’s no longer illegal in Washington state,” Gov. Inslee said. “Forgiving these convictions will help lessen their effect and allow people to move on with their lives. It’s a small step, but one which moves us in the direction of correcting these injustices. ”

Under the plan, which is called the Marijuana Justice Initiative, people are able to apply for clemency if they meet certain requirements. These include:

  • So as to apply for clemency, someone can have only one conviction on their record.
  • That single certainty has to be a former adult misdemeanor possession.
  • The individual ’s conviction must have occurred in the timeframe between January 1, 1998 and December 5, 2012, when cannabis first became legal in the state.

The governor’s office estimates that somewhere around 3,500 people are entitled to apply to have their records cleared. Programs are available on the governor’s website.

Addressing Past Injustices

As explained by Gov. Inslee, the new Marijuana Justice Initiative aims to accomplish a few distinct things.

For starters, it’s a way to bring past criminal charges and convictions into alignment with current laws. As opposed to forcing people to keep on dealing with a criminal record for something that’s no longer prohibited, Inslee’s initiative will clear those documents.

Similarly, the new plan is an effort to deal with the racially discriminatory ways that previous cannabis prohibition laws tended to harm people of color.

It’s well documented that cannabis laws in particular, and War on Drugs laws more generally, disproportionately harm people of color. And those charges have implications far beyond initial sentencing.

By way of example, prior convictions can bar people from accessing student loans. Similarly, it can keep people from being approved for housing. And criminal records often make it more difficult to get a job.

By clearing past marijuana offenses, the Marijuana Justice Initiative could eliminate these barriers from the lives of the 3,500 or so people who qualify.

“This is a small step, but one which moves us in the direction of correcting injustices that disproportionately affected communities of color,” the governor’s website said. “A successful pardon of a marijuana possession conviction can help with barriers to housing, employment, and education. ”

Released at Fri, 04 Jan 2019 21:09:48 +0000

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