Nevada: Officials Approve Unconditional Pardons for Those with Low-Level Marijuana Convictions

State officials today moved to grant unconditional pardons to thousands of Nevadans with low-level marijuana convictions.

The move comes one week after Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak initially proposed the idea of issuing blanket pardons for persons convicted of minor marijuana possession offenses. Members of the Nevada Board of Pardons unanimously approved an amended version of the Governor’s resolution at their meeting this morning.

The move summarily pardons an estimated 15,000 people previously convicted of offenses involving the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. According to the Board’s website, “An unconditional pardon removes all disabilities resulting from conviction,” including the restoration of gun ownership rights. However, “A pardon does not overturn a judgment of conviction, nor does it erase or obliterate the fact that one was once convicted of a crime.”

“Today is an historic day for those who were convicted of what has long been considered a trivial crime, and is now legal under Nevada law,” the Governor said in a press release. “Many Nevadans have had these minor offenses remain on their records, in some cases as a felony. This resolution aims to correct that and fully restore any rights lost as a result of these convictions.”

Commenting on the state’s actions, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The Governor and the members of the Pardons Board are to be commended for taking this proactive stance. 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.”

As per the resolution, the Secretary of the Nevada State Board of Pardons Commissioners will create an expedited process for those seeking pardon documents, which will be free of charge and available online. The Board’s actions do not include records sealing, which is outside the scope of the Pardons Board.

In recent months, Democratic Governors J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Jay Inslee of Washington have both similarly moved to issue blanket pardons to thousands of residents with past cannabis convictions.

Separate legislation enacted in Nevada in 2019, Assembly Bill 192, permits those convicted of marijuana-specific activities which have since been decriminalized or legalized to submit a written request to the court to have those records sealed. Petitioners may not be charged a fee for submitting such a request, and any objections to the request must be filed within ten judicial days.

A full statement from Governor Sisolak’s office is online here.