Oregon Governor Pardons 45,000 Cannabis Convictions

Gov. Kate Brown announced she's heeding President Joe Biden's call to pardon low-level cannabis convictions.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown this week announced she’s heeding President Joe Biden’s call last month for U.S. governors to pardon low-level cannabis convictions and pardoned roughly 45,000 residents.

“No one deserves to be forever saddled with the impacts of a conviction for simple possession of marijuana — a crime that is no longer on the books in Oregon,” Brown said in a press release. “Today, I am taking steps to right the wrongs of a flawed, inequitable, and outdated criminal justice system in Oregon when it comes to personal marijuana possession.”

The pardons apply to anyone who was 21 or older in 2016 or before and convicted of possession of one ounce of cannabis or less, Brown’s office said. The pardons won’t apply to anyone who was also charged with an additional crime.

Still, Brown’s pardons will eliminate 47,144 convictions and wipe out about $14 million in fines and fees, “eliminating barriers for thousands of people seeking employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” according to the release.

However, the pardons only apply to convictions that are “electronically available,” which means that anyone convicted before 2005 will still have the violation on their records, Law360 reported.

Oregon attorney Paul Loney told Law360 that while Brown’s move is “a start,” he said many more reforms need to be enacted before justice is served.

“This doesn’t include if someone just gave someone an ounce. All of the other marijuana convictions out there still lower people’s credit score, preventing them from getting jobs and apartments,” Loney told Law360.

Biden pardoned all federal marijuana convictions for possession charges in early October and also launched a review of cannabis’s status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which could lead to federal legalization within another two years.

John Schroyer

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