Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has less than a week left in office and he is putting his time to good use by forgiving minor marijuana convictions.
“As governor, I’ve been trying to lead a more sane drug policy,” stated the Democratic governor, who’s held office since 2011.
Shumlin is reviewing hundreds of applications; requesting pardons for convictions, dealing with small amounts of marijuana. He offered this earlier in the month to individuals who have no felonies and have not been charged with any other crimes.
“It could have happened in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s. There are thousands of them,” stated Shumlin. “We’ve got folks who got charged for an ounce or less of marijuana in a different era when we were running a failed War on Drugs. Let’s give those folks the opportunity to have a clean record.”
On December 8th, Shumlin announced that individuals can visit his website and apply for the Christmas pardon before December 25th. Shumlin’s office received 460 applications between December 8th and December 25th, spokesperson Scott Coriell told WCAX News. The governor’s team is working alongside other agencies; including the Vermont Crime Information Center, reviewing each application.
Shumlin will likely issue the pardons next week, Coriell said. Adding that they did not expect to “have any issues processing all of the applications” before Shumlin leaves office on January 5. In 2013,possession of small amounts of pot was decriminalized in Vermont.
If an individual was arrested today for the same offense, they would get the equivalent of a traffic ticket. Vermont’s decriminalization bill included an expungement law, allowing individuals to apply to have their records expunged. However; the governor who has fought for complete legalization, says that process is cumbersome and time-consuming. He feels pardoning is the fairest way to right old wrongs.
“As we see legalization happening in Massachusetts and Maine and a number of other states, you have to ask the question, if it’s going to be legal to buy in so many states now across America, why would we still be punishing the folks that got convicted for an ounce or less, you know, many years ago,” Shumlin stated in the beginning of this month.