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More than six years after Washington voters legalized cannabis in 2012, the Evergreen State is finally giving a fresh start to thousands of adults living with criminal convictions left over from prohibition’s past.
According to CNN, Washington Governor Jay Inslee introduced the Marijuana Justice Initiative on Friday, January 4th, announcing plans for an expedited process to pardon up to 3,500 some Washingtonians arrested for simple cannabis possession between 1998 and 2012.
"We shouldn't be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal in Washington state," Inslee said. "Forgiving these convictions can help lessen their impact and allow people to move on with their lives. It's a small step, but one that moves us in the direction of correcting these injustices."
Once instituted, the program will impact only Washington residents who have received one single adult misdemeanor charge for marijuana possession in the alloted 14 year window. Unfortunately, all other long-standing cannabis convictions will remain.
“Forgiving these convictions will allow people to move on with their lives,” the governor’s office said in a statement after Inslee’s announcement. “This is a small step, but one that moves us in the direction of correcting injustices that disproportionately affected communities of color.”
Recognizing the racist history of cannabis policing, Washington is the latest in a long line of progressive states and cities to throw out pot convictions for qualifying residents. Late last year, in Gov. Inslee’s backyard, local officials in Seattle executed a similar initiative, vacating nearly 500 lingering possession charges.
Wasting no time, Washington’s Marijuana Justice Initiative is already in full swing, with a pardon petition form on the Governor’s web page ready to help Evergreen State residents finally clear the slate once and for all.
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