Nevada joins the list of states doing their part in creating social reform through cannabis policy change. A new resolution, introduced by Governor Steve Sisolak (D), will grant more than 15,000 people a pardon for their minor cannabis crimes. The state’s Board of Pardons unanimously passed the resolution just days after the Nevada governor unveiled the idea.
“Today is a historic day for those who were convicted of what has long been considered a trivial crime, and is now legal under Nevada law,” Sisolak said in a press release.
New Opportunities for Nevadans
The passage of this resolution will open the door for many people in Nevada. The pardoning of these offenses allows the individual to have several rights returned to them. For example, once pardoned, individuals will be able to vote, serve on a jury, and even own a firearm. It does not, however, void the convictions. In other words, the conviction may be erased from the record, but the ruling is still valid.
“I’m proud to work alongside Governor Sisolak to make it easier for these Nevadans to get jobs, housing, and financial aid for college. Together, we’re making criminal justice reform a priority across Nevada.” said state Attorney General Aaron Ford.
This resolution applies to anyone who has been arrested solely for the possession of cannabis between 1986 to 2017. The conviction must be for the possession of an ounce or less. For those who believe they may be eligible, they can submit a form to expedite the process. Unfortunately, like everything, there’s a catch.
Exemptions from the Resolution
The loophole in this resolution can be damaging to certain individuals, depending on when they were arrested. For anyone convicted after 2001, they have nothing to worry about. For those convicted before 2001, their chances slim down quite a bit.
“Prior to 2001, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana in Nevada was a felony crime,” according to the resolution’s FAQ. “Unfortunately, people convicted of this crime were lumped together people convicted of possession of other drugs. There is no way to separate these groups out.”
Times were very different two decades ago. Many people viewed marijuana as a gateway drug that led users to harder drugs, such as heroin. Unfortunately, there’s another way to be denied a pardon. Anyone who took a plea bargain as part of their conviction may face obstacles as well.
“Additionally, sometimes people charged with possession of one ounce or less of marijuana pled to other crimes as part of the plea bargain process,” the FAQ reads. “People falling into these two categories are not covered by this resolution here. However, the Pardons Board can still provide relief to individuals seeking to have those convictions pardoned.”
Other than those two hurdles, the majority of people in Nevada will have an opportunity to correct their past. Nevada isn’t the only state to do this either.
Last year, New York passed a bill that will expunge thousands of convictions related to low-level cannabis crimes. Virginia followed suit this year by doing the same. Even more recently, Colorado lawmakers successfully passed a bill this week that will help pardon people of these crimes. Other states to carry on this tradition include California, Washington, and Illinois. Hopefully, we see more states follow in the footsteps of these ones in the near future.