Gov. Kate Brown Pardons 45,000 People With Past Cannabis Convictions

The decision follows in the footsteps of a similar federal pardon, but impacts many more people.

Today, Gov. Kate Brown pardoned an estimated 45,000 people with low-level cannabis convictions—forgiving $14 million in fines and fees in the process.

“No one deserves to be forever saddled with the impacts of a conviction for simple possession of marijuana—a crime that is no longer on the books in Oregon,” Brown said in a statement.

The decision follows on the heels of a similar announcement from President Joe Biden in October. But Brown’s decision will have much more impact. Most possession charges were prosecuted by local authorities. The federal mass pardon affected only 6,500 people.

Few if any of the people pardoned today are still behind bars or on probation. But anyone in Oregon who was convicted of a single charge of possessing 1 ounce or less of weed (and was over 21 years old at the time and whose crime had no victim) will have the record of the conviction sealed, removing it from future background checks.

Prior convictions make applying for housing and job-hunting difficult. It’s a problem that disproportionately affects people of color. “My pardon will remove these hardships,” Brown said.

These pardons will add to what has already been a historic tally. The Guardian reported in September that Brown had already granted commutations or pardons to 1,147 people. That’s more than all of Oregon’s governors from the past 50 years combined, the story noted.