Washington State To Pardon Thousands Of Pot Possession Charges

By Bryan Le 01/08/19

The governor’s office says about 3,500 citizens qualify for the pardon according to the plan, called the Marijuana Justice Initiative.

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judge deciding to pardon pot possession charge

Governor Jay Inslee of the state of Washington announced he is offering to pardon thousands of people charged with only a misdemeanor marijuana charge, which will help citizens who would otherwise be dogged with these minor crimes as they seek employment or look for housing.

The caveat is that the charge must be a state charge between January 1, 1998 and December 5, 2012, not a local ordinance. The December date marks the day marijuana possession was legalized in the state. The governor’s office says about 3,500 citizens qualify for the pardon according to the plan, called the Marijuana Justice Initiative.

“We shouldn’t be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal behavior in the state of Washington,” said Inslee, believing that there is great support for the initiative.

Inslee has always been enthusiastic about legal marijuana in his state. Last year on television, the governor bragged to host Bill Maher that “we’ve got the best weed in the United States of America.”

Those who need the pardon can apply on the website of the governor’s office. Those who receive one will have the charge scrubbed from public criminal records; however, a copy will be retained for law enforcement knowledge only. To have the court records scrubbed as well, a petition can be made to the court that ruled over the charges.

Some regard the moves to be good publicity for a possible presidential campaign.

“While it’s a wonderful gesture, it won’t pardon everybody,” said Seattle Hempfest General Manager Sharon Whitson. “They really do need to look at it all the way up the scale.”

Inslee agrees the initiative doesn’t do enough but claims it’s a good first step. He said citizens should urge other local authorities to follow his lead. His advisers claim that Inslee is looking into more comprehensive legislation for pardoning remaining marijuana offenders as well.

A bill that was proposed in 2017 that would require all courts to hear any requests to clear these crimes did not pass. The city of Seattle, however, has begun to follow suit, vacating around 542 Seattle citizens of these charges.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter

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