HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman said Thursday that he’s urging people with non-violent marijuana offenses to apply for a pardon.
His office said the announcement – which comes just one day after Governor Tom Wolf came out in support of legalizing recreational marijuana – is all about second chances and allowing people to move on with their lives.
“When people are arrested they have all sorts of hurdles to overcome,” said John Hargreaves of the Pennsylvania Prison Society.
One substantial hurdle, Hargreaves said, is re-entering society with a marijuana offense on your record.
“We want people to get pardoned because if they get pardoned, then their record is not available for public perusal,” Hargreaves said.
All the more reason, he said, to make the pardon’s process easier.
“They have a much better chance of getting a job, finding a place to live, of reintegrating themselves into the community,” Hargreaves said.
Each application for a pardon will be reviewed by the Board of Pardons, which the lieutenant governor oversees.
“The board of pardons is creating a separate stream for those simple offenses,” says Christina Kauffman, Fetterman’s press secretary. “We have people whose lives are being jammed up related to charges for something that essentially, in many states, is not even illegal. These are people who haven’t harmed anybody but who were in simple possession of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia.”
Earlier this year, all application fees were waived, in an effort to further help expedite the pardon’s process.
Beyond just improving lives, Hargreaves said this push for pardons actually benefits those already in the workforce.
“We want them to become taxpayers. If they become taxpayers, they become better citizens, they’re active in their communities,” he said.”If we can get them paying taxes instead of absorbing taxes, that’s exciting.”
House Republicans appear to be on board, although they don’t necessarily agree with fees waived for the pardon process, according to a spokesman.
In Cumberland County, state Rep. Greg Rothman said this is not an issue for his district. We also reached out to Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo who said he “will look at each clemency application, individually.”
For more information on applying for a pardon, click here.