Outgoing Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) announced on Monday that she was granting tens of thousands of pardons for marijuana convictions in the state.
The pardons will affect about 45,000 people, his office estimates, and will apply to people who were 21 or older when found in possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana before 2016 ― when the state started allowing recreational use of the drug ― so as long as they don’t have other charges.
“No one deserves to forever have to deal with the consequences of a conviction for simple possession of marijuana – a crime that is no longer on the books in Oregon,” Brown said in a statement, noting that due convictions on their records, many of these people “face housing insecurity, employment barriers and education barriers for doing something that is now completely legal “.
The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement praising Brown, who also recently commuted the sentences of dozens of people who were convicted of crimes they committed as minors.
“We are grateful for Governor Brown’s use of clemency as a powerful tool to combat outdated and racist practices in our state,” Sandy Chung, executive director of the ACLU of Oregon, said Monday in a statement. communicated.
Blacks in Oregon, according to the group, are 1.8 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana convictions despite having equal usage rates. Nationally, this figure rises from 1.8 to 3.73.
Brown acknowledged those discrepancies in her announcement Monday, saying she was “taking steps to right the wrongs of a flawed, unfair and outdated criminal justice system in Oregon with respect to personal possession of marijuana.”
Oregon is one of 21 states — along with Washington DC and the US territory of Guam — where recreational marijuana use is now legal. However, the federal government still bans the drug and considers it as dangerous as heroin and crystal meth despite mounting evidence to the contrary.
Brown, who is leaving office after reaching the two-term limit, will be replaced by Democrat Tina Kotek.
The Huffington Gt