Should the resolution pass, the Nevada pardons represents growing marijuana-centric criminal justice reform occurring nationwide.
A new resolution introduced by Gov. Steve Sisolak would pardon tens of thousands of low-level marijuana offenders in Nevada, a state that voted to fully legalize cannabis in 2016. Sisolak will present the resolution to the Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners next week. If passed, it will provide an unconditional pardon for anyone convicted of possessing less than one ounce of marijuana.
“The people of Nevada have decided that possession of small amounts of marijuana is not a crime,” Sisolak said. “If approved, this resolution will clear the slate for thousands of people who bear the stigma of a conviction for actions that have now been decriminalized.”
The Governor’s office clarified that such pardons would not apply in cases of possession with intent to sell. A bill, signed last year by Sisolak, already exists that allows low-level marijuana offenders to petition the courts to expunge their records. This new resolution would remove that bureaucratic step and pardon offenders automatically.
Sisolak first floated the resolution back in March at a Board of Pardons Commissioners meeting. Though a pardon does not overturn a conviction, it does restore various rights to offenders, including the right to vote and hold certain jobs and public office.
The resolution coincides with widespread criminal justice reform in the country, following weeks-long protests over police violence and systemic inequalities. California Gov. Gavin Newsom labeled cannabis legalization a “civil rights issue” earlier this week. Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler announced he would redirect marijuana tax revenue from police budgets and fund programs that directly support communities of color.
The National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML) petitioned the feds to recognize marijuana prohibition as more harmful than the plant itself.
“We all have an important part to play right now in acknowledging the role that racially-motivated drug war policies have played in perpetuating systemic injustice in America,” NORML wrote in an open letter. “We hope that you continue to use your voice to call attention to this issue, and that you consider joining those of us in calling for long overdue public policy changes.”