Gov. Shumlin Offers Pardons for Marijuana Possession Convictions | Off Message

Gov. Shumlin Offers Pardons for Marijuana Possession Convictions

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Gov. Peter Shumlin - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Gov. Peter Shumlin
Updated at 4:20 p.m.

Puff, puff — poof.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin wants to make your pot conviction go up in smoke.
The outgoing Democrat will consider pardoning people convicted of possessing up to one ounce of marijuana, given applicants don’t have violent convictions in Vermont or a felony record.

Applications can be submitted online beginning Thursday and will be accepted through December 25 — Christmas. Shumlin leaves office shortly after that; Republican Phil Scott will succeed him.

There’s no guarantee of a pardon, the governor’s office said in a statement announcing the policy.

“However, I will try to get through as many as possible before the end of my administration on January 5th,” Shumlin said. “This is the right thing to do.”

A pardon would “essentially [wipe] the offense off their criminal record,” the governor’s office said. Vermont decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in 2013, legislation that Shumlin cited as the impetus for this initiative. Those now caught with small amounts of pot are ticketed instead of being criminally charged.

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Voters in both Massachusetts and Maine recently decided to legalize the recreational use of marijuana as a growing number of states ease restrictions on the drug. Shumlin pushed for legalization during his State of the State speech in January, but the measure failed in the Vermont House earlier this year.

“Decriminalization was a good first step in updating our outmoded drug laws,” Shumlin said in a statement. “It makes no sense that minor marijuana convictions should tarnish the lives of Vermonters indefinitely.”

Asked for comment, Ethan Latour, a spokesman for governor-elect Scott, noted that the former state senator and lieutenant governor “voted in favor of medical marijuana and was a proponent of decriminalization.”

“The governor-elect believes pardon applications should be thoroughly reviewed and carefully considered to ensure that they are granted only to those who made a minor mistake, consistent with the intent of the decriminalization law,” Latour said in an email. “It is our expectation that Governor Shumlin has a plan in place to review and act on all the pardon applications he receives before he leaves office.”

Click here for more information on the pardon program.


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