Holiday Pardons for Cannabis Convictions
It has been months since President Joe Biden announced pardons for small possession federal cannabis felonies and urged State Governors to issue their own state level pardons. Although Governor Wolf has prioritized criminal justice and pardon reform throughout his administration and granted thousands of pardons through the PA Marijuana Pardon Project, less than 10% of the project’s applicants will end up receiving pardons for one reason or another.
Of the 3,539 applications submitted, representing 2,600 individuals, only 231 will receive a final public hearing later this month. Another 434 applications will be held for review, but the majority of these applications were denied due to other disqualifying crimes on applicant’s records.
“It is the hope of Governor Wolf that the next administration will continue working to improve this process and give people with these offenses their rightful clean slates, until marijuana becomes legal in Pennsylvania.” stated Wolf’s deputy press secretary, Emily Demsey.
Some are asking Wolf, “why wait?!” feeling the governor should demand the Board of Pardons hold a public hearing to consider the idea of a general pardon for those with low-level marijuana offenses.
An online petition supporting a call for social justice has over 1000 signatures. The original petition, issued in July by the Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity had at least 11 Counties calling on Governor Wolf, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and Attorney General Josh Shapiro, as well as appointed members of the Board of Pardons –Harris Gubernick, John Williams and Marsha Grayson– to forgive previous marijuana convictions so these Pennsylvanians can start rebuilding their lives.
As Governor Wolf’s term approaches its end on January 17th, 2023, he has the ability to use his executive power to push for small possession pardons. This decision could benefit tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians whose employment, housing and entire lives remain impacted by their criminal records for activities that are currently legal in 20 states, and will soon be legal in Pennsylvania.
Tara Zrinski is the Campaign Director for the Pot Profits for Pennsylvanians (P3) Campaign. She joins All Together Now PA with a dynamic background as a local legislator in Northampton County, community organizer for environmental non-profits and adjunct professor of Philosophy at DeSales University and Northampton Community College.