Nevada and Colorado have decided to erase the records of thousands of people convicted of minor cannabis offenses before legalization.
Cannabis has been legal in Nevada since 2017. And while Las Vegas has already become one of the country’s most popular legal tourist destinations, tens of thousands of Nevada residents still live with criminal records for offenses that no longer exist.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has announced that he is submitting a new resolution to automatically pardon all minor cannabis offenses in the state, a proposal accepted by the Nevada State Board of Pardons.
The resolution applies to individuals previously convicted once or more times for possession of one ounce (28 grams) or less. This is the first time the state has passed a resolution to pardon thousands of people. The administration will put in place a fast-track process for those seeking amnesty, which is free and available online.
State Attorney General Aaron D. Ford called the decision “another step toward justice,” which will make it easier for those affected by the reforms to access financial aid for college and employment and housing.
Colorado lawmakers passed a bill last week that would allow the governor to overturn cannabis convictions without the input of judges and prosecutors involved in the original court cases. The measure, House Bill 1424, is now headed to Democratic Governor Jared Polis’ office for signature.
The bill was introduced just two weeks ago by Democratic Representative James Coleman. After quick approval in the Colorado House of Representatives, the bill passed the state Senate, where it was amended to give the governor the power to pardon convictions for possession of up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of cannabis.
This bill is the result of effective stakeholder work that has paved the way for important social equity policies,” said a spokesman for Jared Polis. “The Governor is pleased that a significant bipartisan bill dealing with cannabis equity has been passed by the legislature, and thanks to the legislators for their efforts in forwarding it to his office.
As part of the normal amnesty process in Colorado, the governor is required to notify the appropriate judge and prosecutor so that they can provide information to guide the decision. The bill also aims to achieve greater social equity among workers in Colorado’s legal cannabis industry.
The vast majority of proposals for legalization, and of the US states that have already legalized cannabis, make social justice a pillar of regulation, both to repair the damage caused by cannabis prohibition and to foster a new, fair industry.