Written by Rita Thompson
According to a recent tweet from Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, the Nevada State Board of Pardons Commissioners has unanimously passed a resolution to pardon those convicted of minor cannabis offenses.
Today, the Nevada State Board of Pardons Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution I put forward to pardon those convicted of minor marijuana offenses, which are now legal. pic.twitter.com/iqcg0InUp5
— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) June 17, 2020
Recreational cannabis has been legal in Nevada since January 1, 2017. Prior to then, the possession of 1 ounce or less of cannabis was considered a criminal act, and could be charged as a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or even a felony—depending on the circumstances.
In an attempt to provide relief to, “tens of thousands of Nevadans previously convicted for possession of small amounts of marijuana, which is no longer a crime in the state,” Gov. Sisolak announced the idea of blanket pardons last week (June 11th), on Twitter.
The resolution states:
“All persons previously convicted in the State of Nevada for violations of statutes, ordinances, or codes prohibiting the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana not for purpose of sale, including without limitation NRS 453.336(4) and its subsections, are hereby unconditionally pardoned. This provision shall not be construed to extend to concomitant criminal convictions related to the underlying marijuana conviction.”
The measure provides unconditional clemency to those with possession convictions of up to 1 ounce from January 1986 to January 2017.
What Does “Pardon” Mean, Anyway?
Pardons do not void convictions. However, they do restore rights like the ability to vote or serve on a jury, according to Nolo.
Further, this resolution does not cover other drug crimes, or convictions that may come as a result of cannabis charges.
“Today is an historic day for those who were convicted of what has long been considered a trivial crime, and is now legal under Nevada law,” the Governor said in a press release.
“Since the passage of [adult-use legalization] in 2016 and the decriminalization of possession for small amounts of marijuana, many Nevadans have had these minor offenses remain on their records, in some cases as a felony,” he added. “This resolution aims to correct that and fully restore any rights lost as a result of these convictions.”
Paul Armentano, the Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) also praised the Pardon Boards decision.
“The Governor and the members of the Pardons Board are to be commended for taking this proactive stance. Thousands of citizens unduly carry the undue burden and stigmatization of a past conviction for behavior that is no longer considered to be a crime,” Armentano said in a statement on NORML’s website. “Our sense of justice and our principles of fairness demand that officials move swiftly to right the past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization.”
All-in-all, this is a great step in the direction of much needed law enforcement reform. However, as 40,000 lives remain imprisoned over cannabis across the U.S., according to Forbes, it’s important that we keep our foot on the gas and strive for more. If you’re looking for a way to further support cannabis policy reform, visit NORML.com/act.