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PUFF, PUFF, PARDON: Oregon Governor Brown forgives 45K marijuana convictions

PUFF, PUFF, PARDON: Oregon Governor Brown forgives 45K marijuana convictions

PUFF, PUFF, PARDON: Oregon Governor Brown forgives 45K marijuana convictions

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Outgoing Oregon Governor Kate Brown, the first openly bisexual woman to lead a state in that role, announced on Monday that she will pardon prior state offenses of simple possession of marijuana.

Governor Brown’s pardon will impact an estimated 45,000 individuals across the state and forgive more than $14,000,000 in associated fines and fees.

More importantly, it will also remove 47,144 convictions for possession of a small amount of marijuana from individual records, eliminating barriers for thousands of people seeking employment, housing, and educational opportunities who have otherwise been ineligible.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, local rock star

Measure 91 was approved in Oregon in 2014, which legalized the non-medical cultivation and use of marijuana in the state in July 2015. The measure’s success legitimized the marijuana reform movement and added to the momentum built from Initiative 502 in Washington and Amendment 64 in Colorado, which passed in 2012.

States which have legalized weed have seen enormous boosts to their economies while seeing unemployment numbers drop as a result of the suddenly ubiquitous dispensaries–which were declared essential businesses at the beginning of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic.

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According to the Governor’s press release, the pardon applies to electronically available Oregon convictions for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana, in pre-2016 cases in which the person was 21 years of age or older, where this was the only charge, and where there were no victims.

This pardon does not apply to any other offense related to marijuana or other controlled substances.

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Following the Governor’s pardon, the Oregon Judicial Department will ensure that all court records associated with these pardoned offenses are sealed, as required by law.

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“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,” said Governor Brown.

“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. 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.”

“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,” the statement continues. “My pardon will remove these hardships. And while Oregonians use marijuana at similar rates, Black and Latina/o/x people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”

As a new-ish Oregon resident who moved from nearby Vancouver, WA, to Portland just six months ago, I vividly recall the night Oregon followed Washington’s lead into legalization. People were partying on the Burnside Bridge.

While the novelty has worn off, the politics behind weed definitely hasn’t followed suit, an ultimate buzzkill. It’s time it was legalized and decriminalized federally.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching Governor Brown’s rise from a local political darling to the powerhouse she is today.

She’s had a rough go of it–the last few years have been especially brutal on Portland, in case you haven’t been paying attention.

I used to encounter her regularly when she kept her offices in the same building above the old location of Mother’s Bistro, where I was working as a host during the leanest years of my life.

Thanks for your service, Governor Brown! I’ll be thinking of you the next time I spark up.

Tara Dublin is a woefully underappreciated and unrepresented writer currently shopping a super cool novel that has nothing to do with politics while also fighting fascism on the daily.

Follow her on Twitter @taradublinrocks.

Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.

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Tara Dublin
Tara is a reported opinion columnist at Occupy Democrats. She's a woefully underappreciated and unrepresented writer currently shopping for a super cool novel that has nothing to do with politics while also fighting fascism on a daily. Follow her on Twitter @taradublinrocks

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