How Gov. Inslee’s Marijuana Pardon Plan Measures Up

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday he will offer pardons to people convicted of minor marijuana possession between 1998 and 2012. But those offenders may be better off under other alternatives available to clear their names.

Someone pardoned under Inslee’s plan, for example, would still have to answer “yes” to the question “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” on housing and other forms, although they would be able to clarify they have been pardoned. A pardon does not expunge a crime from someone’s record.

By contrast, getting a conviction “vacated” wipes away a sentence and can set aside a guilty verdict.

But vacating a sentence comes with certain requirements that a pardon doesn’t, and a spokesman for the governor’s office said Inslee’s pardon plan can be easier to access.

“A pardon is going to have less impact than if one would have vacated a conviction,” Governor’s office Deputy General Counsel Tip Wonhoff

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