Washington State Governor Announced Plan to Clear Marijuana Convictions

Washington State Governor Announced Plan to Clear Marijuana Convictions

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

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

Since the beginning of December, Inslee has been under scrutiny. The media in Washington reported he quietly formed a national 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 like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Beto O’Rourke, Inslee allegedly is banking on his stellar record of supporting environmental causes to win votes. Many 2020 candidates have expressed their support for widespread cannabis legalization.

The governor’s office estimates that some 3,500 people will be eligible for the pardons. But they need to be looked over individually by Inslee’s staff first. A senior policy advisor to the governor attributed his support of the program to his concern over sweeping racism within the justice system linked to drug convictions. A research from 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 greater than that of town ’s white inhabitants. 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 fill out a one-page form available 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 successful, it will be wiped from publicly available criminal background 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 measures to expunge the records for around 542 people, an action that was spearheaded by City Attorney Pete Holmes.

The governor’s staff says Inslee is also in favor of wider pardons that would remove misdemeanor cannabis convictions from any petitioning adult. A wider plan would be like the one proposed 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 champion for cannabis causes. ”

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

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