State News

Shumlin issues nearly 200 pardons for minor marijuana charges

Gov. Peter Shumlin has pardoned 192 individuals convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana, according to a Jan. 3 news release. In December, the Governor announced that he would consider pardons for those with minor marijuana possession charges who did not have violent criminal histories.
“A minor marijuana possession charge should not be an anchor that holds back an individual from getting a good job or going about their life,” Gov. Shumlin said. “While attitudes and laws about marijuana use are rapidly changing, there is still a harmful stigma associated with it. My hope was to help as many individuals as I could overcome that stigma and the very real struggles that too often go along with it. Vermont should follow the many states that are legalizing and regulating the use of marijuana and put to an end the incredible failure that is the War on Drugs.”
In 2013, Gov. Shumlin signed a law decriminalizing possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. Before the law was changed, thousands of Vermonters were charged with the misdemeanor offense of possessing up to two ounces of marijuana. For many of those individuals, that misdemeanor offense presented lasting challenges, including difficulty finding employment, working in federal buildings, applying to college, chaperoning their children on school trips, becoming a caretaker for a partner, traveling internationally, or obtaining a professional license.
About 450 individuals applied for a pardon by the Governor. After processing all of those applications, conducting background checks, and reviewing criminal histories, the Governor decided to pardon 192 individuals. The Governor did not pardon those with violent criminal histories or those also convicted of driving under the influence or reckless driving. All pardons were for the conviction of misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
Under the 2013 decriminalization law, individuals convicted of minor marijuana possession may request to have a qualifying offense expunged from their record through the court process. Individuals convicted or marijuana or any other offense can also apply for a pardon under the next governor.
During his six years in office, Gov. Shumlin has issued 208 pardons, more than any governor in Vermont history.

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