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Michigan’s Governor-Elect May Pardon Those With Marijuana-Related Convictions - Should More States Do the Same?

by High Times | Updated on 11.8.18

Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan may pardon those with marijuana convictions after the state’s voters legalized recreational cannabis with the passage of Proposal 1 on Tuesday. Whitmer, who was chosen by voters in the midterm election, said in a press conference on Wednesday that she may use her executive powers to grant clemency to incarcerated marijuana offenders.

“I think that the people of Michigan have said that for conduct that would now be considered legal no one should bear a lifelong record for that conduct,” Whitmer said.

“We will start taking a look at that and making some decisions and taking some action early next year,” she added.

Recreational Pot Now Legal

Michigan’s Proposal 1 passed by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent, state election officials reported on Wednesday morning. The measure legalizes the possession, cultivation, and use of recreational marijuana and creates a regulatory infrastructure for a commercial cannabis economy.

Even before parties celebrating the passage of Proposal 1 had finished, some reform advocates were calling for clearing non-violent marijuana convictions from offenders’ criminal records. State Senator Coleman Young II said that the passage of Proposal 1 offers an opportunity to take people out of jail and find them employment in a newly legal industry.

“Now I’m very hopeful that we can now work on getting these brothers and sisters out of jail and getting them into jobs, and that’s what I’m all about,” Young said.

Matthew Abel, an attorney with the Cannabis Counsel in Detroit, said that criminal records should be cleared of convictions for acts that are no longer against the law.

“We need to go back and add expungement for marijuana offenses; there’s nothing automatic about it,” Abel said.

Josh Hovey, the spokesperson for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the group behind Proposal 1, told High Times on Wednesday that his group wanted expungement of cannabis convictions to be part of the initiative.

“Expungement was actually included in the very first draft of the proposal that we wrote and it was an incredibly important piece to so many of the people involved in developing it. But it came down to Michigan’s constitution only allowing for a single issue to be included in a ballot question,” Hovey said.

“Our legal counsel strongly advised us that we could be in violation of Michigan’s constitution if we went forward because the legalization of marijuana is one issue, and expungement of criminal records is a separate issue,” he added.

Governor-Elect To ‘Respect The Will Of The People’

At Wednesday’s press conference Whitmer said that she will take an active role in the implementation of regulations to create a recreational cannabis industry in the state.

“A lot of states have moved forward and it’s time for Michigan to move forward,” Whitmer said. “I will respect the will of the people. They’ve spoken, and so it’s on me to work with the attorney general to ensure that we have thoughtful regulations that we promulgate. That’s something that’s really important to me.”

Whitmer said that she will be receiving advice from officials in states that have already legalized recreational cannabis.

“We can learn lessons from other states,” said Whitmer. “I’ve already gotten some outreach from experts in states that have moved forward already so that we can avoid some of the pitfalls that they’ve encountered and do it smarter. I think that’s something that’s really important.”

Whitmer added that while public safety is an important issue, she wanted to make sure access to recreational marijuana is not overly restricted now that it has been legalized by the voters.

“I want to make sure our children don’t have access to recreational marijuana, but I also want to make sure we collect those taxes and that they are spent as the voters intended them to be,” said Whitmer.

The post Michigan’s Governor-Elect May Pardon Those With Marijuana-Related Convictions appeared first on High Times.

High Times

Written by High Times

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(73)
  • burrkitty
    11/08/2018
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    The marijuana laws were always about racial discrimination. It only makes sense to undo some of the damage.

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  • Robert
    11/08/2018
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    People should have their arrest records expunged if the drug laws have changed.

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  • J. scott
    11/08/2018
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    Yes I think marijuana convictions should be considered and overturned on a case by case basis especially and perhaps only in states that have subsequently legalized marijuana. Nevertheless, there are things to consider like marijuana bootleggers and people with illegal growing operations. It’s not like marijuana is legal somewhere and we can ignore laws still on the books. That’s problematic here in Colorado and there is no talk of mass pardons. Sounds cool but perhaps not the best policy.

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  • Robert
    11/08/2018
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    Prisons are already too full with real felons

    Like (9)
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  • Josh
    11/08/2018
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    Cannabis convictions should be pardoned as long as they were non violent which is probably the vast majority. It’s time to end the war and embrace liberty. Stop locking people up for profit and end police unions now.

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  • SneakyPete
    last Friday
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    They did the Crime they need to do the time.

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  • IllWill
    11/08/2018
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    People who were convicted of laws that voters now acknowledge were unjust should have their convictions overturned and released from prison. It makes no sense to keep people in prison for something that is now legal.

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  • Jim2423
    11/08/2018
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    Arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana is like arresting someone having possession of a bottle or can of beer. No one ever OD’ed or died from marijuana. Yes I hope the new governor makes the right decision.

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  • Robert
    11/08/2018
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    A great start to a new job.

    Like (7)
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  • SneakyPete
    last Friday
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    They did the Crime they need to do the time.

    Like (5)
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  • Yay4Marx
    11/08/2018
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    The private prison industry will try to control every politician they can to stop this kind of thing. Mass incarceration is big money and will not ease up without a fight. Hold elected officials accountable and make sure they all follow this lead!

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  • Kim
    11/08/2018
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    It’s practical. As long as the offenses weren’t violent, we need to stop spending so much money on prisoners. We can take the savings and transfer it to education and teach kids healthy choices, similar to alcohol use.

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  • Hillary
    11/08/2018
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    Get those non violent offenders back to work, back to their families, and off the “forced welfare” of incarceration.

    Like (4)
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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    last Friday
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    I support humanity. I support intellectual reasoning and I support liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I support the abolishment of Conservative oppression. I support liberal common sense, morals, ethics and human values.

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  • Lelandwdouglas
    11/08/2018
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    This is a no brainier. No one should be criminalized for marijuana possession.

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  • Colby
    11/08/2018
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    No, I don't think those with Marijuana-related crimes should be pardoned. because it WAS illegal at the time of the crime. I do not agree with the prohibition on marijuana, however they chose to use knowing it was still outlawed at the time and should stick with the record they were given

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  • WaterHopsBarley
    11/08/2018
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    Yes. If Joe Arpaio and all the others can be pardoned for what they did, marijuana convictions should be thrown out.

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  • ManfromNebraska
    last Friday
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    With legalization of marijuana will come more drug use and more people’s lives destroyed. Our country is already on the brink as it is. Instead of being controlled by drugs and alcohol we need a spiritual revival. As a country we have lost our love for God and His truth. Without His truth our country will implode from the lack of Godly morals. We see the stress marks on our society as it is. If we keep adding to the moral decay implosion is inevitable. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:19-24‬

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  • Justin
    last Friday
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    Now that our elected officials have blown all our tax revenue the only thing that will bring new revenue to pay down our debt is pot ! As soon as our moral right has seen the amount of $ it generated in the states it’s become legal in there morals go out the window for there greed !

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  • Tim
    11/08/2018
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    I’m all for legalizing marijuana, but they committed a crime, even if it’s not a crime anymore, it was still a crime, they broke the law, what’s to say they won’t do it again with something else?

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