Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced Monday that she was pardoning previous offenses for simple marijuana possession and removing more than 47,000 convictions from individual records.
According to a statement from Brown, the move will affect up to 45,000 people in Oregon and waive $14 million in fines and charges.
“No one deserves to be forever burdened with the ramifications of a conviction for simple possession of marijuana – a crime that is off the books in Oregon,” the governor said.
“Oregonians should never face housing insecurity, barriers to employment, and barriers to education for doing something that is perfectly legal now and has been for years,” she added. “My forgiveness will remove these needs. And while Oregonians use marijuana in similar amounts, Black and Latina/o/x people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
Brown’s pardon will be applied to electronically available records of Oregon convictions for a conviction of one ounce or less of marijuana. Eligible convictions must have occurred prior to 2016, where the individual was over the age of 21 and involved no victims.
No other marijuana-related convictions were included in the pardon.
Brown’s office noted that it could take several weeks for Oregon to update its records and notify collection agencies of the waived fines. However, they said the records should be updated within a month.
All court records relating to the pardoned offenses will be sealed and the convictions should not show up in background checks not conducted by law enforcement. A copy of the court order sealing an individual’s court records should be available in about six to eight weeks, according to Brown’s office.
Brown’s lawsuit comes about six weeks after President Biden announced he would pardon all federal offenses for simple marijuana possession. He similarly cited the barriers that a marijuana-related conviction presents in a person’s life when explaining his decision.
“Too many lives have been turned upside down because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time we corrected these mistakes,” the president said at the time.
The White House urged governors to follow Biden’s lead in pardoning marijuana convictions. However, Republican governors were not receptive to the idea.
The office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has said it will not take “criminal justice advice” from Biden, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) has been adamant that he considers pardons for marijuana possession “not in consider”.