The push to decriminalize marijuana continues in Pennsylvania.
Gov. Tom Wolf, along with lieutenant governor and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate John Fetterman, today announced a coordinated effort for a one-time, large-scale pardoning project for people with select minor, non-violent marijuana criminal convictions.
The PA Marijuana Pardon Project aims to support those Keystone State residents who have found opportunities limited by a minor marijuana offense on their record.
“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,” said Wolf.
“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. Now’s your chance,” said Wolf.
The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons will accept applications for the Project throughout the month of September.
Individuals are eligible only if they have one or both of these convictions in Pennsylvania:
- Possession of Marijuana (Title 35 Section 780-113 Subsection A31)
- Marijuana, Small Amount Personal Use (Title 35 Section 780-113 Subsection A31I)
While the application is free, eligibility also requires no more than two offenses, that the conviction took place in Pennsylvania and people have no additional convictions on their record. Those with convictions may apply for clemency.
Fetterman said the project will deliver second chances to thousands of deserving Pennsylvanians who are trying to improve their lives amidst the legislature’s refusal to “take the commonsense approach and just legalize it.”
“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,” he said.
The announcement of the PA Marijuana Pardon Project comes on the heels of Fetterman calling on President Biden to deschedule marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
The Governor’s Office estimates that thousands of Pennsylvanians are eligible due to convictions over the past several decades, even pre-dating marijuana’s inclusion as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act.
Under the program’s timeline, applicants will be notified by Oct. 13 if they will receive a public hearing. In mid-December, the Board of Pardons will vote on individual cases in public hearings. After the conclusion of the hearings, application recommendations will be made to Wolf for pardons that he will issue prior to departing office in January.
While a pardon constitutes complete forgiveness, those whose pardons are granted will still need to petition the court for an expungement of the conviction from their record.