Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State has announced that he will be offering pardons to anyone with a single misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana in the State of Washington. Not only has Governor Inslee announced that it will be his policy to grant these pardon applications, he also is creating an expedited process to remove much of the bureaucratic red tape when applying with a sole misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana. Anyone with multiple convictions or a felony marijuana conviction can still apply for a pardon, but not in the expedited fashion.
This development is a true turnaround for Governor Inslee, who initially fought against marijuana legalization in the State and actually ran on a platform opposing I-502, the measure to legalize marijuana in Washington. It appears that the Governor’s views have changed.
How will Pardons be expedited?
To apply for a pardon in the State of Washington, you generally are required to petition to the Clemency and Pardons Board. The Board will review all requests for pardon and then make recommendations to the Governor if it believes a person deserves a pardon. For anyone with a single misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction, the Governor is removing the Clemency and Pardons Board from the process. This means that your pardon application will be made directly to the Governor’s office and therefore considered much more quickly. We also believe from the Governor’s statement that these pardons should have a very high success rate.
Why Is the Governor doing this now?
Governor Inslee has stated that “we shouldn’t be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal behavior in the State of Washington.” We also believe that the Governor is concerned about the disproportionate impact of drug possession convictions on people of color who have been systematically targeted for minor drug offenses. This initiative will go a long way to fixing this injustice, although we believe that the Governor should have allowed multiple marijuana convictions to be petitioned in the expedited pardon process rather than only allowing for people with single misdemeanor convictions to apply directly to his office.
Benefits of a Pardon
Pardons remove your record from the State Patrol’s public records, although the pardoned case will still be visible to law enforcement. In effect, this means that your record should not show on employment or housing related background checks after a pardon is granted. We believe that any potential applicants should consider whether record sealing or vacating the record would be better options.
Even though the Board is no longer involved for these single marijuana possession convictions, we still believe the pardon application should be put together thoughtfully and completely. We have helped many clients in the past apply for a pardon and we can assist you as well. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like our assistance in the process. We can also screen for other forms of court relief which could complement a pardon application.