Oregon Governor Issues Weed Pardons

Stephen Andrews
28 Nov 2022

Governor Kathy Brown of Oregon announced over 47,000 pardons for minor marijuana possession convictions in an effort to reform criminal justice in The Beaver State. Brown's move follows President Joe Biden's mass pardon for federal convictions in October when he instructed governors to follow steps for equivalent state-level offenses.

Gov. Kathy Brown said last week that she is to issue pardons for low-level cannabis possession convictions of adults 21 and above for cases that took place before 2016. Her office reported that a total of 47,115 convictions are included in the mass pardon, affecting around 45,000 individuals persecuted for small possessions of marijuana. Additionally, about $14 million in penalties and fees associated with the convictions are forgiven with this action. 

"We are a state, and a nation, of second chances. Today, I am taking steps to right the wrongs of a flawed, inequitable, and outdated criminal justice system in Oregon when it comes to personal marijuana possession," Brown said in a statement

"For the estimated 45,000 individuals who are receiving a pardon for prior state convictions of marijuana possession, this action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions," she said. 

The governor acknowledged the fact that the Black and Latina communities have been disproportionally affected from marijuana-related offenses. 

She added: "No one deserves to be forever saddled with the impacts of a conviction for simple possession of marijuana — a crime that is no longer on the books in Oregon."

"Oregonians should never face housing insecurity, employment barriers, and educational obstacles as a result of doing something that is now completely legal, and has been for years. My pardon will remove these hardships," Brown said. 

The pardons apply for small possessions of marijuana, on par with the White House move last month that encompassed some 6,500 people with a federal conviction for simple possession of weed, and it do not extend to include cannabis-related offenses such as cultivation, distribution, or commerce. 

The governor's office said that the pardons would not release any incarcerated person from jail. There currently isn't a single convict in Oregon for possessing less than an ounce of weed. 

Stephen Andrews