Certain Pennsylvanians eligible for pardon of nonviolent, small marijuana convictions

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Under a new program just announced by Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania’s Board of Pardons is set to take up the cases of thousands of Pennsylvanians with nonviolent, small amount marijuana convictions.

“In Pennsylvania’s crimes code, there is simple possession and then there is a specific subsection for possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana or less than 8 grams of hashish,” according to defense attorney and former Allegheny County prosecutor Patrick Nightingale.

Those are the only two types of convictions eligible for pardon under this program.Any other convictions disqualify applicants.

“The question that I have is, ‘How many Pennsylvanians have been convicted of small amount standing alone?’ In my experience, I often see a small amount charge coupled with a paraphernalia charge,” said Nightingale.

In addition to practicing criminal law, he is also the executive director of Pittsburgh NORML, an advocate group for marijuana legalization.

“Here in Allegheny County, throughout my entire career, we have always reduced a small amount of marijuana to a summary disorderly conduct in front of the magistrate,” said Nightingale.

He believes it would be hard to find someone in Allegheny County with just a conviction for just a small amount of marijuana, o he questions how many people are actually eligible for the pardon program.

“If you do have additional convictions for marijuana or for another offense, you can continue to apply for clemency through the regular processes that we do have in place at the Board of Pardons already,” said Celeste Trusty, the secretary for the Board of Pardons.

She said the online process to apply for a pardon is quick and easy.

Once you’re granted a pardon, she advises you to take an additional step.

“Once you get a pardon, you want to go ahead and petition the court for a pardon for the expungement,” said Trusty. “It’s usually a pretty simple process to do, but once it’s expunged, that’s when it’s actually cleared off your record.”

The deadline to apply for a pardon is Sept. 30.

Click here to apply.

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