Having a marijuana offense on a person’s record can wreak havoc on that person’s life for many years, well after they were caught with marijuana. A marijuana conviction can prevent a person from getting financial assistance in college, prevent them from getting a job, and even prevent them from being approved for a rental property to live in. That’s why I always call a marijuana conviction on a person’s record the ‘marijuana scarlet letter.’
Vermont decriminalized marijuana in 2013, making what was once a crime an infraction. Vermont’s outgoing Governor feels that anyone convicted of a marijuana offense that is now not a crime in Vermont should have their convictions pardoned. Governor Shumlin asked people that fit that description to apply before he left office. Per NECN:
In his final days as the state’s top executive, outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin is expected to issue what could be hundreds of pardons to Vermonters convicted of what are now considered minor marijuana violations.
Last month, Shumlin invited people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana before the state decriminalized it in 2013 to apply for pardons.
Almost 500 people applied.
This is outstanding. It is not as good as if all marijuana convictions for everyone, for every amount, were pardoned in Vermont. But this is a sensible move on the part of Governor Shumlin and I applaud him for it. Vermont is on a lot of people’s watch lists for a potential successful legalization push in the Vermont Legislature this session, along with almost every other state in the region.