Pennsylvania Announces Program to Pardon Thousands of Pot Convictions

Pennsylvania residents previously arrested for cannabis now have a path to a clean record.

Governor Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, both Democrats, announced last week the formation of the PA Marijuana Pardon Project, billed as an “effort to expeditiously pardon thousands of Pennsylvanians from minor, nonviolent marijuana-related convictions.” ”

“This pardon project has the potential to open the door to thousands of Pennsylvanians — the college grad looking to start their careers, grandparents wanting to accompany a field trip, or any Pennsylvanian who is being denied much-needed assistance. Now is your chance,” Wolf said in Friday’s announcement.

The governor’s office said that “Pennsylvanians eligible for parole are those with one or both of the following convictions”: “possession of marijuana (Title 35, Section 780-113, Subsection A31)”; and “Marijuana, small quantities for personal use (Title 35, Section 780-113, Subsection A31I)”.

Individuals interested in applying to the program can submit their applications online September 1-30.

“According to the program’s schedule, applicants will be notified by October 13 when they receive a public hearing. In mid-December, the Parolees Committee will vote on individual cases in public hearings. Upon completion of the hearings, Wolf will be presented with application recommendations for pardons, which he will issue prior to leaving office in January,” Wolf’s office said in the press release on Friday.

Wolf and Fetterman, who are running for the US Senate in Pennsylvania this year, said they would take the action “in the absence of legislative action to legalize it by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.”

“Nobody should be turned down on an old nonviolent grassess charge for a nonviolent grassess charge over a job, a home or volunteering at their child’s school, especially given the fact that most of us don’t even think that this should be illegal,” Fetterman said in the press release.

Fetterman, who is up against Republican nominee Mehmet Oz (aka “Dr. Oz”) in the Senate race, is a vocal advocate for marijuana legalization.

Last week, ahead of President Biden’s Labor Day visit to Pittsburgh, Fetterman called on the White House to take action on cannabis reform.

“It’s about time we finally decriminalized marijuana,” Fetterman said in a statement. “The President needs to use his executive powers to begin de-scheduling marijuana, I would love for him to do that before his visit to Pittsburgh. This is just common sense and Pennsylvanians are overwhelmingly supportive of decriminalizing marijuana.”

This position is in stark contrast to Oz, who has said he opposes cannabis legalization and whose campaign has mocked Fetterman’s pro-weed policies.

In an ad published last month, the Oz campaign slammed Fetterman’s position on marijuana, depicting a bong coming out of the Democratic nominee’s head.

“There aren’t enough Pennsylvanians to work in Pennsylvania,” Oz said in an interview with Newsmax in May, “so giving them weed to keep them at home isn’t an ideal move in my opinion at work have to give them their mojo, and I don’t want marijuana to be a barrier to that.”

Fetterman, meanwhile, has not commented on the matter.

“I don’t want to hear a bull – that of Dr. Oz’s campaign is coming that seeks to link marijuana decriminalization to seriously harmful crime,” Fetterman said in a statement, quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Are we to believe that neither he nor his associates ever used marijuana? … I know firsthand what real crime looks like. Marijuana doesn’t fit the picture.”

Cannabis reform advocates praised Wolf and Fetterman for the pardon program.

“It’s a good example that Gov. Wolf and Lt. gov. Fetterman will do everything in their power to address this matter,” Chris Goldstein, NORML’s Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware regional organizer, said in the press release last week.

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