Washington Governor Offers Pardons for Pot Conviction
Washington State Cannabis Summit, an annual conference sponsored by the legal marijuana industry had a bigger announcement by Governor Jay Inslee. He will offer pardons to thousands of people with misdemeanor marijuana convictions that can help them in public profiling so that they can get better home and job prospects.
Under this plan, he will offer pardons to those who have otherwise a clean record, and the pot conviction is the only one as an adult for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in Washington State.
As per the Government’s statistics, around 3500 people will be eligible for this pardon. Pot conviction must have occurred under the state law, not a local ordinance between Jan. 1, 1998, and Dec. 5, 2012, the date on which Initiative 502 got approved. Initiative 502 legalized possession of marijuana by the adults of 21 years old or above.
Governor said that the people should not be punished for the acts which were no longer illegal in the Washington State. He also claimed of broad public support for this pardon.
Inslee in 2012 at the time of running for Governor stood against the Initiative 502, but he seems to have changed his views on this issue. He recently boasted of Washington’s marijuana as United States’ best pot in the talk-show hosted by Bill Maher.
A lawyer associated with this act has told that the Governor’s plan of pardon aims at a certain group of people of color, as the convictions are high in the cases of people of color.
People who are seeking pardon can apply through the Government’s website. It has a simple application form which needs to be filled up.
Tip Wonhoff, the governor’s deputy general counsel said that the Governor’s new pardon process was not like the one already in place. People seeking pardon can now skip the process of requesting state’s Clemency and Pardons Board, which after verification forwards the application to the Governor.
As per the officials’ version, the people who will get pardon will have their names removed from the criminal history reports which are available to the public, but it will still be available for the law enforcement agencies. The records will also be available with court files.
The pardon process seems like a political exploration tool by the Governor as he is eyeing for Presidential elections in 2020, and recently Inslee also has formed a federal political action committee and garnered attention for making climate change the centerpiece of his potential national campaign.
Still, there are criticisms to this step, as the number of people benefitting from this step would be small in number. And, the Governor’s office will review each applicant’s file individually. Some other people have however, welcomed the step saying it was a great initiative.