(Reuters) – Washington state will create a streamlined system to pardon people convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession before the drug was legal, under an initiative launched on Friday by Governor Jay Inslee, who is considering a run for U.S. president.
Voters in Washington state and Colorado in 2012 made their two states the first in the United States to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Since then, eight other states have followed suit, while more than 30 states allow the use of medical marijuana. Federal law still bans cannabis.
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“We shouldn’t be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal in Washington state,” Inslee, a Democrat, said in a written statement.
Under the governor’s so-called Marijuana Justice Initiative, anyone with a single misdemeanor marijuana conviction in Washington state between 1998 and 2012 could apply for a pardon.
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An estimated 3,500 people are eligible, according to Inslee’s office.
Some people with past convictions have faced obstacles in applying for jobs and housing.
Disparities - Prosecution - Marijuana - Offenses - Americans
Racial disparities in the prosecution of marijuana offenses have hurt African Americans and other minorities, and civil rights groups have pushed politicians to take up the issue.
“This (action by Inslee) is a...
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