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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Wisconsin governor grants marijuana and drug-related pardons, sets state pardon record

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Wisconsin’s governor announced Tuesday that he has granted 30 pardons, primarily to people convicted of nonviolent marijuana or other drug offenses.

This brings the total number of pardons issued so far by Governor Tony Evers (Dim) to 337 during his first three years in office, the most any governor in state history has granted at this point to a first term. Advocates have been urging state and federal executives to exercise this kind of power, particularly for cannabis issues as more jurisdictions enact legalization.

“I am proud of our work to give a second chance to people who have made reparations and paid their debts to society,” Evers said in a press release. “These individuals have recognized and acknowledged the mistakes of the past, and this sends a powerful message of salvation as they each work to build a better and brighter future for themselves and their communities.”

Of the 30 cases pardoned on Tuesday, 21 were related to the sale or possession of a controlled substance.

One case description reads: “Matthew Callaway was in his late teens when he sold marijuana to an officer 16 years ago.” “He resides in Colorado, where he aspires to become a firefighter.”

Leon Howard was 19 years old when officers found marijuana in his home. Says. “He lives in Milwaukee and has supported his neighborhood by organizing back-to-school parties and cleaning up the streets as well as working two jobs.”

Receiving a pardon does not mean that someone’s record has been deleted under Wisconsin law. Instead, it is a formal act of forgiveness that restores rights such as the ability to serve on a jury, hold public office, or obtain certain professional licenses. people can Progressing For pardon, they are eligible for a pardon if at least five years have passed since the end of their sentence, with no other pending criminal charges.

Drug laws are particularly punitive in Wisconsin, where efforts to legalize marijuana, for example, have consistently stalled in the legislature despite the fact that the governor pushed for reform.

However, there are lawmakers working to enact policy changes. Just last month, a pair of bipartisan lawmakers introduced a bill to Decriminalizing Low Level Marijuana Possession. In August, three senators introduced separate legislation to Legalization of cannabis use for adults in the state.

As it stands, marijuana possession is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in prison for a first offense. People convicted of a subsequent offense will face a criminal charge punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to three and a half years in prison.

Evers tried to legalize recreational and medical marijuana Through the state budget that he proposed earlier this year, but a legislative committee led by the Republican Party Cannabis language stripped of legalization in May. Democrats Try adding sentences again through an amendment next month, but Republicans blocked the move.

Other Republican legislators Presented bills to decriminalize marijuana possession more modestly in the state, but none of those proposals were submitted during this year’s session.

Evers held a virtual event at City Hall in April where Discuss his cannabis proposal, stressing that the ballot shows that Wisconsin residents support the policy change.

Locally, Wisconsin voters in three jurisdictions last year Agree to non-binding advisory questions in favor of marijuana legalization. These moves came after Wisconsin residents overwhelmingly embraced the cannabis reform By supporting more than a dozen similar actions across the state during the 2018 elections.

Late last year, city officials in the state capital, Madison, voted to remove most local penalties for possession and consumption of cannabis, Effectively allowed for use by adults 18 years and over.

But as lawmakers move forward with any number of reform proposals in Badger state, there are still people facing the consequences of criminalization in the meantime — and that’s where executive pardons can come in and help.

Evers may have set a pardon record in Wisconsin, but he’s not the only governor in the United States taking proactive steps to provide relief.

In May, the Governor of Pennsylvania pardoned a doctor who was They were arrested, tried and imprisoned for marijuana cultivation He used to bring relief to his dying wife. This came months later Urgent pardon granted for low-level cannabis offenses Serves 69 people.

Pennsylvania Governor John Fetterman recently stated that one of his main goals in his final year in office was to ensure that as many qualified people as possible were presented. Applications to have the courts Remove their cannabis records and restore opportunities For things like housing, student financial aid, and employment.

After signing a bill to double the adult marijuana possession limit in Colorado, Governor Jared Polis (D) directed state law enforcement to Identifying people with previous convictions For the new limit he may be able to pardon.

Last year Illinois Governor Announced more than 500,000 write-offs and pardons For people with low-level marijuana offenses on their records. The sweep of clemency and records came about one year after the state’s legal market for cannabis was launched.

In June, more than 15,000 people were convicted of possession of low-level marijuana in Nevada They were automatically pardoned by decision of the governor and the Board of Amnesty Commissioners.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee (Democrat) also has Pardon cannabis offenses.

At the federal level, President Joe Biden has faced pressure from many advocates and lawmakers to use his executive power to grant relief to those with marijuana convictions on their records.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week that the president has done so “All intent to use the power of clemency,” But she declined to give details of when any presidential action would actually take place.

Biden needs to rely on his executive power now. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) said last week that he had been delaying and reducing its use so far, adding that he might use his power to Provides a number of progressive reasons Like a marijuana fix.

The congresswoman was among the first to suggest that Biden use executive power to advance marijuana reform, joining 36 of her colleagues in a letter to the president in February calling for a mass pardon for people convicted of federal cannabis. Biden recently received Follow-up message asking for status update.

Last week, a pair of Republican lawmakers sent a separate letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris Critics of “lack of work” and “persistence of silence” on marijuana reform and urged the administration to reschedule cannabis under federal law. that they The application was first submitted in July.

These are just the latest examples of lawmakers applying for reform directly to the president, who has disappointed advocates in his first year in office by refusing to take meaningful steps to change the country’s approach to cannabis despite his campaigning for decriminalization. Rescheduling platform.

Since the election, neither the president nor the president on video — who sponsored a legalization bill while serving in the Senate — has spoken about cannabis campaign pledges. So far, the only pardon made under the Biden administration is The turkeys benefited at the Thanksgiving feast.

This is despite repeated pleas from lawmakers and advocates.

Last month, a group of senators separately He sent a letter urging Biden to use his executive power To grant a collective amnesty to people with nonviolent convictions in marijuana.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who led the message, said during a recent interview that Biden could boost the economy and promote racial equality. By “pencil stroke” giving relief.

A recently published report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) asserts that the president has his powers Mass amnesty for cannabis offenses. She also said the administration could move to federalize cannabis without waiting for lawmakers to take action.

Conversely, there is a group of more than 150 celebrities, athletes, politicians, law enforcement professionals, and academics Sign a letter delivered to Biden In September, she urged him to issue a “full, complete, and unconditional pardon” for all people with nonviolent federal convictions in marijuana.

Warren and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) separately Sent a letter to the prosecutor in October, to demonstrate that the Department of Justice should initiate the marijuana removal process in order to “allow states to regulate cannabis as they see fit, begin to address the harm caused by decades of racial disparities in cannabis law enforcement, and facilitate valuable medical research.”

The White House said in August that the president was He is looking to use his executive power To grant clemency to people with certain convictions related to nonviolent drugs.

In April, Psaki was pressed about Biden’s promise to pardon people who use federal marijuana and said the process He’ll start modestly rescheduling weed A proposal that proponents say will not achieve what you are proposing.


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