Oregon’s Democratic Gov. Katie Brown announced Monday that she was pardoning an estimated 45,000 individuals there convicted of possessing marijuana and forgiving around $14 million in associated fines and fees.
“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,” Gov. Brown said in a press release Monday. “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. My pardon will remove these hardships. And while Oregonians use marijuana at similar rates, Black and Latina/o/x people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
According to the release, the pardons could impact around 45,000 people, and some $14 million in the fines and fees associated with their convictions.
“We are a state, and a nation, of second chances,” she said. “Today, I am taking steps to right the wrongs of a flawed, inequitable, and outdated criminal justice system in Oregon when it comes to personal marijuana possession. For the estimated 45,000 individuals who are receiving a pardon for prior state convictions of marijuana possession, this action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.”
The release said that the court records of the pardoned individuals would be sealed as required by state law.
According to Oregon’s Statesman Journal, the offenses to be pardoned must have taken place before 2016, are electronically available, be for one ounce or less of marijuana, and involve crimes where there were no victims. Pardons will only apply to people over the age of 21,
The report said that while the convictions would no longer appear on public background checks of court records, they would still come up on checks performed by law enforcement or licensing authorities as a pardoned conviction.
President Joe Biden issued a similar simple marijuana possession pardon for those charged or convicted in the federal system on Oct. 6.
The New York Times reported then that the pardon would extend to about 6,500 people convicted of simple possession between 1992 and 2021, but also said that no one serving a federal prison sentence is included in the action.
“Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives – for conduct that is legal in many states,” Biden posted on Twitter after signing the order. “That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs.”
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