Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced Sept. 1 a plan to pardon Pennsylvanians with select minor, nonviolent cannabis-related convictions.
The PA Marijuana Pardon Project is a one-time, large-scale effort that will accept applications online from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30, according to the press release from the governor's office.
“I have repeatedly called on our Republican-led General Assembly to support the legalization of adult-use marijuana, but they’ve yet to meet this call for action from myself and Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said in a public statement. “Until they do, I am committed to doing everything in my power to support Pennsylvanians who have been adversely affected by a minor marijuana offense on their record.
“This pardon project has the potential to open the door for thousands of Pennsylvanians—the college grad looking to start their career, the grandparent who’s been wanting chaperone a field trip, or any Pennsylvanian who’s been told ‘no’ for much needed assistance," Wolf continued. "Now’s your chance.”
It is estimated that thousands of Pennsylvanians with convictions over the past several decades are eligible for the program. To qualify, individuals must have one or both of the following convictions:
- Possession of Marijuana (Title 35 Section 780-113 Subsection A31)
- Marijuana, Small Amount Personal Use (Title 35 Section 780-113 Subsection A31I)
Those who are not eligible to apply for a pardon through the PA Marijuana Pardon Project due to additional criminal convictions can apply for clemency using a standard application, which is available at bop.pa.gov.
“Nobody should be turned down for a job, housing, or volunteering at your child’s school because of some old nonviolent weed charge, especially given that most of us don’t even think this should be illegal,” Fetterman said in a public statement.
Since taking office in 2015, Wolf has granted 2,098 pardons, 326 of which were part of an expedited review for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses, according to the press release.
Although a pardon constitutes complete forgiveness, those granted pardons must still petition the court for expungement.
“As the state’s medical marijuana program surpasses its six year mark, legislators on both sides of the aisle have changed their minds on cannabis,” Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition (PCC) Executive Director Meredith Buettner said in a public statement. “They’ve witnessed a once illicit market help thousands of Pennsylvanians. This effort by state leaders is common sense governing and we believe that legislators will do the right thing—give thousands of underprivileged Pennsylvanians a chance to get on the same playing field."