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Board approves resolution for pardons for marijuana

Updated June 18, 2020 - 5:05 pm

The state Board of Pardons commissioners on Wednesday by unanimous vote passed an amended resolution put forth by member Gov. Steve Sisolak in which those convicted of minor marijuana offenses would be pardoned.

“Today is a 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. “Since the passage of Question 2 in 2016 and the decriminalization of possession for small amounts of marijuana, many Nevadans have had these minor offenses remain on their records, in some cases as a felony. This resolution aims to correct that and fully restore any rights lost as a result of these convictions.”

“Today we took another step toward justice by pardoning thousands of Nevadans for actions that Nevadans decided should no longer be illegal,” Attorney General Aaron Ford said. “I’m proud to work alongside Governor Sisolak to make it easier for these Nevadans to get jobs, housing and financial aid for college. Together, we’re making criminal justice reform a priority across Nevada.”

Prior to January 1, 2017, the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana was a criminal act that could be charged as a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony depending on additional factors. This resolution extends to persons who were previously convicted for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and to persons convicted multiple times for this same act.

The resolution summarily pardons thousands of persons previously convicted of this crime, a first for the Board of Pardons commissioners. The secretary of the board will create an expedited process for those seeking pardon documents, which will be free of charge and available online.

Other drug crimes are not covered by today’s decision; it is strictly for those previously convicted for violations of state and local laws prohibiting the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana not for purpose of sale. The resolution does not cover other criminal convictions that may be associated with the underlying marijuana conviction.

Today’s action does not include records sealing, which is outside the scope of the pardons board. As a result, although these pardons forgive the underlying crimes, they do not remove the convictions from the person’s criminal records.

During the 80th legislative session, the Legislature passed and Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 192, which provides a streamlined process for sealing convictions for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. This process is entirely free and can be navigated without the assistance of an attorney.

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