With less than a month remaining in office, Gov. Peter Shumlin is offering pardons to the thousands of people convicted of low-level marijuana offenses in Vermont.
It’s been three and a half years since Vermont decriminalized possession of an ounce or less of cannabis. But the outgoing Democratic governor says that does little for the thousands of low-level marijuana offenders convicted prior to 2013.
“We’ve got folks who got charged for an ounce or less of marijuana, in a different era, when we were running a failed war on drugs,” Shumlin said Thursday. “Let’s give those folks an opportunity to have a clean record.”
Shumlin says the pardons will be reserved only for non-violent offenders with no felonies on their record. His office estimates that as many as 17,000 people might fit that criteria.
People interested in seeking a pardon can do so by submitting an application anytime between now and Christmas.
Shumlin says his office will vet each application to ensure no pardons go to people who pose a threat to public safety. His says it’s unclear how long it will take to process pardon applications, or whether he’ll have time to vet all the applicants before he leaves office on Jan. 5.