Crime

Vermont Governor Offers Pardon For Marijuana Convicts

| by Ray Brown

Just days before he's scheduled to leave office after nearly six years, Democratic Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said he wants to pardon the state's low-level marijuana offenders.

"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. Let's give those folks the opportunity to have a clean record," Shumlin said, reports WCAX.

Under Shumlin's pardon plan, misdemeanor-level marijuana offenders with no violent crimes or other felonies on their records who have been convicted in Vermont of possessing an ounce or less of marijuana can apply for a pardon until Dec. 25 on the governor's website.

"As governor, I've been trying to lead a more sane drug policy," Shumlin said.

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In 2013, Vermont decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. But Shumlin said going further and pardoning those who qualify under his new proposal is “the right thing to do,” according to the Burlington Free Press.

“Decriminalization was a good first step in updating our outmoded drug laws," Shumlin said. "It makes no sense that minor marijuana convictions should tarnish the lives of Vermonters indefinitely. And there's some injustice in not having the new rules apply to those who are having their lives held back because of the old rules.”

An estimated 10,000-17,000 offenders may be eligible to apply for Shumlin's pardon, according to WCAX.

But there's not a lot of time to get those pardons put through before Shumlin retires from office and incoming Republican Governor-elect Phil Scott takes the state's reigns after a decisive win on Nov. 8 over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter, reported Seven Days.

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In May 2016, the Vermont legislature had a chance to be the first state in the country to legalize marijuana through a bill backed by Shumlin, according to WPTV. Other states that had legalized had done so through public votes.

That bill was overwhelmingly rejected by the state's legislature, 121 to 28.

In a statement at the time, Shumlim said he was "incredibly disappointed" by the vote.

Sources: WCAX, WPTV, Burlington Free Press, Seven Days / Photo credit: Community College of Vermont/Wikimedia Commons

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