As more states have begun legalizing marijuana, many are asking whether it’s time to revisit charges and convictions for the possession, sale, and cultivation of cannabis. A number of states that legalized marijuana for recreational use have followed up with measures to provide relief to those with prior convictions for marijuana crimes. But beneath the umbrella of forgiveness are vastly different methods and results. This brief explores the methods by which states can implement forgiveness remedies for past marijuana crimes. It then takes a more in-depth look at how three states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use implemented such measures: California, Oregon, and Colorado.
James Craven is a senior fellow at Reason Foundation, where he focuses on criminal justice and drug policy issues.