North Dakota Offers Path to Pardons for Low-Level Marijuana Convictions

With support from the state’s Republican governor, North Dakota moved on Wednesday to allow thousands of individuals to potentially wipe their slate clean of low-level marijuana convictions.

The state’s pardon advisory board unanimously approved the policy change, clearing the way for those residents to apply for a pardon for such convictions and emerge with a clear record if they avoid committing a crime for the next five years. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, both Republicans, support the move.

“By destigmatizing these minor and, in many cases, distant offenses, we can give individuals a second chance at a successful, healthy and productive life,” Burgum said in a statement on Wednesday.

Burgum, who is in his first term after winning election in 2016, added that the new policy could “address our state’s workforce shortage and grow the economy,” given that such convictions have proven problematic for many individuals applying for jobs. 

“There are a lot of North Dakotans who have this issue,” Stenehjem said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “The burden shouldn’t be something that person has to carry around forever.”

Stenehjem said that, should the pardon get approved, the policy “totally removes a conviction; totally

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