Nevadans convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana before it became legal have been pardoned for the crime, after a unanimous vote Wednesday by the Nevada Pardons Board.
The pardon resolution, which was requested by Gov. Steve Sisolak, extends to those convicted of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana between 2001 and 2017.
“Today is an historic day for those who were convicted of what has long been considered a trivial crime, and is now legal under Nevada law,” Sisolak said in a written statement.
In 2016, voters approved Question 2, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana. That initiative, however, did not expunge the criminal record of those who had been convicted of possession. The convictions included both misdemeanors and felonies.
“This resolution aims to correct that and fully restore any rights lost as a result of these convictions,” Sisolak said.
The Nevada Pardons Board is made up of the governor, the attorney general and the seven supreme court justices.
Attorney General Aaron Ford also praised the decision.
“Today we took another step toward justice by pardoning thousands of Nevadans for actions that Nevadans decided should no longer be illegal,” Ford said.
Those who want a copy of their pardon documents must go through a free application process available on the pardons’ board website.
The pardon does not apply to those convicted of selling marijuana or other drug crimes. The pardon also doesn’t apply to those convicted before 2001, when the possession of marijuana was separated from other drug possession offenses.
People convicted before 2001 are still eligible to apply for individual pardons.
Those who were pardoned Wednesday also must go through the process to have their records sealed so that the conviction won’t appear in background checks. Under a law passed in 2019, the process for sealing those convictions is free and can be done without a lawyer.
Anjeanette Damon is the government watchdog reporter for the RGJ. You can reach her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @AnjeanetteDamon. If you care about shining a bright light on decisions made by your elected officials, please consider subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.
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