Outgoing Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Monday pardoned 45,000 state residents with minimum marijuana offenses.
The pardon applies to convictions for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in cases before 2016 where the person involved was 21 or older. The measure applies to 47,000 state convictions and will forgive about $14,000 total in fines and fees linked to prior offenses.
“Oregonians should never face housing insecurity, employment barriers, and educational obstacles as a result of doing something that is now completely legal, and has been for years,” Brown said in a statement. Oregon legalized recreational weed use in July 2015.
She acknowledged that while state residents “use marijuana at similar rates, Black and Latina/o/x people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
Brown’s decision comes about a month and a half after President Joe Biden pardoned more than 6,500 U.S. citizens federally convicted of simple marijuana possession, as well as those charged in Washington, D.C. He called on governors nationwide at the time to follow in his footsteps. He also instructed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to review how marijuana is classified under federal drug laws.
Recreational marijuana use is legal in 21 states and D.C. Maryland and Missouri are the two latest states to legalize weed, with state residents voting to pass amendments in favor of the move during the midterm elections.
Arrests for marijuana possession account for between 40-50 percent of all annual drug arrests nationwide, according to the ACLU, but “Black people are still more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people in every state, including those that have legalized marijuana.”