Under the program, The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons will accept applications from eligible applicants from Thursday, Sept. 1, through Friday, Sept. 30. Applying is free and applications may be submitted entirely online.
According to the program’s website, individuals are eligible only if they have one or both of these convictions in Pennsylvania:
- Possession of Marijuana (Title 35 Section 780-113 Subsection A31)
- Marijuana, Small Amount Personal Use (Title 35 Section 780-113 Subsection A31I)
Those seeking pardons must submit their application prior to the end of this month. The Board of Pardons is scheduled to decide on individual applications in mid-December. Their recommendations are then sent to the Governor for further action.
According to the state’s website, a pardon is defined as “complete forgiveness for your conviction.” However, those whose pardons are granted will still need to petition the court for an expungement of the conviction from their record.
Since taking office, Gov. Wolf has granted pardons to over 300 applicants with marijuana-related convictions.
NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano praised the administration’s efforts. “Tens of thousands of Americans unduly carry the burden and stigmatization of a past conviction for behavior that most Americans, and a growing number of states, no longer consider to be a crime,” he said. “Our sense of justice and our principles of fairness demand that officials continue to take action in order to right the past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization.”
The incumbent Governor is term-limited and cannot seek re-election to a third consecutive term. During his term, he has publicly voiced support for legalizing the adult-use cannabis market. In an accompanying press release issued by his office today, he reiterated: “I have repeatedly called on our Republican-led General Assembly to support the legalization of adult-use marijuana, but they’ve yet to meet this call for action from myself and Pennsylvanians. Until they do, I am committed to doing everything in my power to support Pennsylvanians who have been adversely affected by a minor marijuana offense on their record.”
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is running for the US Senate, has spoken out repeatedly in favor of repealing cannabis criminalization — most recently calling on President Biden to “use his executive authority to begin descheduling marijuana.”
Governor Wolf is not alone in his efforts to provide mass pardons to those with cannabis-related convictions. In recent months, the Governors of Colorado, Nevada, Illinois, and Washington have taken similar steps to grant an estimated 30,000 pardons to those with low-level marijuana convictions. In addition, state and local officials nationwide have also moved to either expunge or seal the records of over two million people with prior cannabis convictions.
Further information about Pennsylvania’s Marijuana Pardon Project is available online here.