Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee today announced his intent to provide an expedited process in order to grant pardons to those with past criminal misdemeanor marijuana-related convictions on their record. It is estimated that some 3,500 individuals will have their criminal records vacated as a result of these actions.
“The Governor is to be commended for taking this proactive stance,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Thousands of citizens unduly carry the undue burden and stigmatization of a past conviction for behavior that is no longer considered to be a crime. Our sense of justice and our principles of fairness demand that officials move swiftly to right the past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization.”
Washington is one of ten states where adult marijuana use is legally regulated. Several additional states have decriminalized minor marijuana possession. In recent years, over a half dozen states have enacted legislation permitting for the expungement of past marijuana-related convictions, and in 2018 California began the process of automatically reviewing and repealing past convictions.
“Branding these individuals, many of whom are at an age when they are just beginning their professional careers, as lifelong criminals results in a litany of lost opportunities including the potential loss of employment, housing, voting rights, professional licensing, and student aid and serves no legitimate societal purpose,” Armentano said. “It makes no sense to continue to punish people for actions that are no longer considered to be criminal in nature.”