Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin changed lives on January 3 when he pardoned almost 200 citizens for misdemeanor cannabis charges. There were about 450 people who asked for the governor to forgive their minor cannabis charges, and the governor pardoned 192 people.
Governor Shumlin shared his intention to pardon individuals who had been charged with possession of an ounce or less of cannabis. This decision was reached because Vermont decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis back in 2013. Governor Shumlin said in a statement that he felt pardoning misdemeanor cannabis convictions was “the right thing to do.”
The Democratic governor made this heroic move as one of the last decisions of his term. “While attitudes and laws about marijuana use are rapidly changing, there is still a harmful stigma associated with it,” Governor Shumlin said in a statement on January 3. “My hope was to help as many individuals as I could overcome that stigma and the very real struggles that too often go along with it.”
The governor pardoned people with misdemeanor cannabis charges that had no previous charges related to violence, reckless driving, driving under the influence or any felony charges.
Having misdemeanor cannabis convictions can negatively affect a person’s ability to attend college and find employment, among other potential roadblocks. By pardoning so many individuals, Shumlin has taken a stand to protect those who were previously hurt by the “War on Drugs.” He made is clear in a statement that this was his intention. “Vermont should follow the many states that are legalizing and regulating the use of marijuana and put to an end the incredible failure that is the ‘War on Drugs.’”
Governor Shumlin’s term was historic for cannabis reform in Vermont. In total, he pardoned 208 individuals during his term. This is a record for the state, according to The New York Times.