If you or someone you know was busted in Washington State for a misdemeanor cannabis possession charge, Governor Jay Inslee (D) has announced that a new program to provide some relief, and something that never should have been can now be undone.
And it’s only taken seven years since cannabis was legalized in Washington for this to happen. Progress!
The plan—called the Marijuana Justice Initiative by the governor—has strict eligibility requirements, including:
• Only convictions occurring between 1998 and 2012 are eligible
• Misdemeanor possession must be the only conviction on the person’s record.
• All convictions must have been prosecuted under state, not local laws
• Only adult charges are eligible
The Governor announced that there are approximately 3,500 individuals who qualify for this program, while admitting that those individuals represent a small portion of those with cannabis convictions. Those who don’t qualify may apply for clemency as well.
A criminal record of any sort, including for the high crime of having a small amount of cannabis on one’s person, can be a barrier to employment, housing, student loans and many other things.
It doesn’t help matters that people of color have always been, and continue to be, disproportionately targeted for enforcement of cannabis offenses.
As Insee told Medium: “We shouldn’t be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal in Washington state. 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.”
No one should have to bear the Scarlet C for having been involved in the “unregulated cannabis market” as a producer, salesperson, or consumer. This is a notable first step, but expungement of all cannabis convictions, inncluding production, transportation, and sales, is what we should all be working towards.
To apply for a pardon, go here.