Washington State Governor Announced Plan to Clear Marijuana Convictions

Amid a flurry of rumors regarding his potential run for the White House in 2020, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee declared a limited program to pardon misdemeanor cannabis convictions coming from 1998 to 2012.

“We shouldn’t be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal behavior in the state of Washington,” said Inslee on Friday morning in the annual Washington State Cannabis Summit, an event held by bud business interests.

Since the beginning of December, Inslee has been under scrutiny. The media in Washington reported that he quietly formed a federal political action committee (PAC) and made personal phone calls to key donors in hopes of raising funds to travel to target nations. Though he’s lesser-known than candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Beto O’Rourke, Inslee reportedly is banking on his stellar record of supporting environmental causes to win votes. Many 2020 candidates have expressed their service for widespread cannabis legalization.

But they need to be looked over individually by Inslee’s team first. A senior policy adviser to the governor attributed his support of this program to his concern over sweeping racism within the justice system linked to drug convictions. A research by the University of Washington’s Alexes Harris and Katherine Beckett discovered that in 2006, Seattle’s drug arrest rate for Black people was 13 times higher than that of town ’s white population. Biased arrest, conviction, and incarceration rates are tied to family separation and housing instability among Washington’s communities of color.

To apply for the new pardons, Washington residents can complete a one-page form on the governor’s website. Pardons are available only for convictions that were processed by Washington State law — no offenses relating to local ordinances are applicable.

Should a pardon request be prosperous, it’ll be wiped from publicly available criminal history reports, but will still be visible to law enforcement. A prior charge will stay in the files of a court that imposed the misdemeanor before the pardoned individual petitions that court directly.

Last year, the City of Seattle took steps to expunge the records for around 542 people, an action that was spearheaded by City Attorney Pete Holmes.

The governor’s team says Inslee is also in favor of wider pardons that would remove misdemeanor cannabis convictions from any petitioning adult. A wider plan would be similar to the 1 suggested by Joe Fitzgibbon, Washington’s Democratic representative in 2017. Fitzgibbon’s bill didn’t make it beyond the hearing stage, however.

Inslee hasn’t always been a winner for cannabis causes. When he first ran for governor in 2012, he was opposed to I-502, the state’s finally successful legalization initiative. ”

Published at Sat, 05 Jan 2019 00:50:01 +0000

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