Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada announced on Thursday that he would seek a resolution that would pardon thousands of convictions for marijuana possession, making good on a proposal he made in March. Sisolak placed the resolution on the agenda for next week’s meeting of the Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners, of which the governor is a member.
“Today, I announced I am placing a resolution on the Board of Pardons Commissioners agenda next week to provide relief to tens of thousands of Nevadans previously convicted for possession of small amounts of marijuana, which is no longer a crime in the State,” Sisolak tweeted on Thursday.
Under the resolution, the Board of Pardons would be granted the authority to issue unconditional blanket pardons for prior convictions for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. In 2016, Nevada voters approved a ballot initiative known as Question 2 that legalized possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and created a regulatory framework for commercial cannabis sales. Sisolak said that the resolution to be considered by the pardons board is in line with the will of the state’s voters and would help alleviate the collateral damage of a criminal record.
“The people of Nevada have decided that possession of small amounts of marijuana is not a crime,” Sisolak said in a press release. “If approved, this resolution will clear the slate for thousands of people who bear the stigma of a conviction for actions that have now been decriminalized.”
Governor Proposed Pardons In March
Sisolak announced at a meeting of the Board of Pardons Commissioners in March that he would seek relief for those convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana not related to sales. The proposal would expedite the pardons process for low-level marijuana offenders, who may also petition the court to have the record of convictions sealed under a law passed by Nevada lawmakers and signed by Sisolak last year.
“The Governor has made criminal justice reform a priority of his administration, and he is always exploring new ways to expand those efforts,” Ryan McInerney, the governor’s spokesman, said in a statement after the meeting in March. “Since all clemency and pardons requests must go through the Pardons Board, the question the Governor posed today was merely a starting point of discussion of what could potentially be a larger, well-vetted proposal – if there was interest to do so.”
Although a pardon granted by the pardons board does not overturn a judgment of conviction, it does restore rights that may have been revoked as a result of a conviction including the right to vote and the right to work in some professions. A pardon may also benefit undocumented immigrants who face deportation because of a criminal conviction.
The Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners is comprised of the governor, justices of the state supreme court, and the state attorney general. The board has statutory authority to pardon or otherwise grant clemency to individuals for prior criminal convictions in Nevada state court.