More than six years after the state legalized the adult use of marijuana, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday he plans to pardon thousands of people convicted of small-time possession charges — the latest in a series of moves by states and cities to ease the burdens people face from having minor criminal records for using pot.
The Democrat, who is mulling a 2020 presidential run, made the announcement at a cannabis industry summit in SeaTac, south of Seattle. Inslee said he was creating an expedited process that would allow about 3,500 people to apply for and receive a pardon without having to hire a lawyer or go to court.
"We have people who have this burden on their shoulders from a simple, one-time marijuana possession from maybe 20 years ago, and that's impeding the ability of people to live their lives," Inslee said in an interview. "It can damage their ability to get financing for a home; it can damage their ability to get financing for colleges, even simple things like going on a field trip with your kids.
"We should not be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal," he said.