Oregon’s governor pardons thousands for pot convictions

Nov 21, 2022, 3:07 PM | Updated: 3:25 pm
FILE - Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks in San Francisco, on Oct. 6, 2022. Gov. Brown is pardoning an ...

FILE - Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks in San Francisco, on Oct. 6, 2022. Gov. Brown is pardoning an estimated 45,000 people convicted of simple possession of marijuana, a month after President Joe Biden did the same under federal law. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Monday she is pardoning an estimated 45,000 people convicted of simple possession of marijuana, a month after President Joe Biden did the same under federal law.

“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,” said Brown, who is also forgiving more than $14 million in unpaid fines and fees.

Biden has been calling on governors to issue pardons for those convicted of state marijuana offenses, which reflect the vast majority of marijuana possession cases. Biden’s pardon applies to those convicted under federal law and thousands convicted in the District of Columbia.

In recent months, the governors of Colorado, Nevada, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Washington state have taken steps to grant pardons to those with low-level marijuana convictions, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.

Several states, including California, Illinois, and New Jersey automatically review criminal cannabis convictions and expunge past records. In other jurisdictions, eligible persons must petition the courts for a review.

As a result of these laws, an estimated 2 million Americans had their cannabis-related convictions set aside in recent years, said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML.

“Our sense of justice and our principles of fairness demand that public officials and the courts move swiftly to right the past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization,” Armentano said.

In 2019, Oregon lawmakers passed legislation establishing procedures for people found guilty of low-level marijuana possession offenses to file a motion with the court to have the convictions set aside. Yet, to date, relatively few Oregonians have done so.

In Oregon, the pardon will remove 47,144 convictions for possession of a small amount of marijuana from individual records. Brown noted that removing these criminal records eliminates barriers for employment, housing and educational opportunities.

The pardon applies to convictions for possession of 1 ounce (28 grams) or less of marijuana when the person was 21 or older, where it was the only charge where there were no victims.

“Oregonians should never face housing insecurity, employment barriers, and educational obstacles as a result of doing something that is now completely legal, and has been for years,” Brown said. She said people of color have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.

The Oregon Judicial Department will ensure that all court records associated with these pardoned offenses are sealed, Brown said.

Oregonians passed a ballot measure legalizing recreational use of marijuana in 2014, becoming one of the first states to do so. In November, Maryland and Missouri voters also legalized cannabis but voters in Arkansas, South Dakota and North Dakota rejected it.

Maryland’s initiative came with a mechanism to erase convictions. By July 1, 2024, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services must expunge all cases in which the possession of cannabis was the only charge in the case, and the charge was issued before July 1, 2023.

Maryland and Missouri joined 19 other states and the District of Columbia in making recreational marijuana legal.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              FILE - A marijuana bud is seen before harvesting at a rural area near Corvallis, Ore., on Sept. 30, 2016. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is pardoning an estimated 45,000 people convicted of simple possession of marijuana, a month after President Joe Biden did the same under federal law. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)
            
              FILE - Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks in San Francisco, on Oct. 6, 2022. Gov. Brown is pardoning an estimated 45,000 people convicted of simple possession of marijuana, a month after President Joe Biden did the same under federal law. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

AP

The Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee discuss proposed changes to the primar...
Associated Press

Dems move to make South Carolina, not Iowa, 1st voting state

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats voted Friday to remove Iowa as the leadoff state on the presidential nominating calendar and replace it with South Carolina starting in 2024, a dramatic shakeup championed by President Joe Biden to better reflect the party’s deeply diverse electorate. The Democratic National Committee’s rule-making arm made the move to strip Iowa […]
19 hours ago
FILE - In this May 24, 2004 file photo, a Mount Graham red squirrel darts through trees on Mount Gr...
Associated Press

Endangered red squirrel found in Arizona sees increase in population

The latest survey shows another increase in the population of the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel in the Pinaleno Mountains of Arizona.
19 hours ago
FILE - Johnny Hincapie raises his fist as he leaves the courthouse in New York, Jan. 25, 2017. Atto...
Associated Press

Man to receive almost $18 million for wrongful NY conviction

A man who was freed in 2015 after spending a quarter-century in prison for an infamous tourist killing will receive nearly $18 million in legal settlements from the city and state of New York, his attorneys confirmed Friday. Lawyers for Johnny Hincapie said it marks one of the largest settlements for a wrongful conviction in […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Mamie King-Chalmers, woman in civil rights photo, dies at 81

DETROIT (AP) — Mamie King-Chalmers, who as a young Black woman appeared in an iconic photo about civil rights struggles in Alabama, has died at the age of 81. She died Tuesday in Detroit, her home since the 1970s, daughter Lasuria Allman said. A cause wasn’t disclosed. King-Chalmers, 21 at the time, was one of […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Nebraska man gets prison for leaving noose for coworker

LA VISTA, Neb. (AP) — A former employee at the Oriental Trading Co. has been sentenced to prison for leaving a noose on a floor scrubber that a Black colleague was set to use. The Nebraska U.S. Attorney’s office said Bruce Quinn, 66, was sentenced Friday to four months in prison and one year of […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — ABC’s “This Week” — Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Dave Joyce, R-Ohio; Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX. __ NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu; Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass. __ CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Secretary of State Antony Blinken; Reps. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Oregon’s governor pardons thousands for pot convictions