Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled a program this morning that offers pardons to some people convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession charges, a program the governor says over 3,000 people in the state will be eligible for.
Inslee, who is running to be the Democratic Party's nominee for president, unveiled his plans in SeaTac this morning at a cannabis trade group's annual meeting. The governor's office said in a press release that they hope the plan will help people charged with these low-level crimes before the state legalized pot.
"These convictions can be over a decade old, but still create barriers to housing, employment, student loans, credit scores and even the ability to participate in a child or grandchild’s school field trip," the news release said. "This is a small step, but one that moves us in the direction of correcting injustices that disproportionately affected communities of color."
The plan—called the Marijuana Justice Initiative by the governor—has strict eligibility requirements, including:
•Only convictions occurring between 1998 and 2012 are eligible
•Misdemeanor possession must be the only conviction on the person's record.
•All convictions must have been prosecuted under state, not local laws
•Only adult charges are eligible
The program's 2012 cut-off date coincides with when pot became legal for adults to possess in Washington. Inslee's office said roughly 3,500 people would be eligible for the program.
People interested in using the program will need to file a petition with the governor. If granted, the convictions will no longer be searchable on public databases. The governor's office said the pardons could be granted within weeks of being applied for.
This program, unveiled at the Cannabis Alliance's annual summit, might become another small card Inslee can play in his run for the White House. He has already positioned himself as the "climate change" candidate, perhaps he can now say he's a deep blue progressive when it comes to pot as well. Although Inslee has presided over a time period where Washington went from being one of the most progressive places in the world for pot to having one of the most conservative set of pot laws for any place in the country that has legalized weed.
Under Inslee's watch, illegal pesticide use has shown to be rampant in the legal market and Washington has become one of the only states that doesn't require mandatory pesticide testing. We're the only state that hasn't given adults the right to grow cannabis at home, a law that the governor has not advocated for changing. Washington also doesn't have any pot cafes where people can use pot publicly, which Colorado and California have recently legalized.
And Inslee's program overlooks many other people caught up in the war on drugs. What about the non-violent pot dealers that got caught with a pound and were sent to jail for something that rich white guys now make millions selling and the state makes hundreds of millions taxing? No word on those folks in this current justice initiative.