The Pennsylvania Marijuana Pardon Project launched in September, and approximately 3,500 applications were submitted for consideration. While these applications will now wait for official reviews to be conducted, it appears that many submitted their applications with typos.
Board of Pardons (BOP) Secretary Celeste Trusty said that numerous applicants have submitted inaccurate information, much of which were simple typos or other small errors. “We want to ensure that applicants are not deemed ineligible for the PA Marijuana Pardon Project because of a simple typo,” Trusty said. “Our partners in the PA Marijuana Pardon Project are going above and beyond to make this a successful process for as many eligible applicants as possible.”
In its most recent BOP meeting held on Oct. 13, members discussed how applications came from 66 out of the 67 counties in the state. Most applications were from residents in Dauphin County (298 applications) and York County (284), followed by Allegheny (212), and Philadelphia (197) among the top.
According to Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition Executive Director Meredith Buettner, the program is much needed in the state. “This is really crucial for a lot of Pennsylvanians with non-violent marijuana-related offenses on their record. It may prevent them from educational opportunities, job opportunities, housing opportunities, so this was an exciting effort for a lot of Pennsylvanians,” Buettner told Fox43.
“It really is absolutely incredible to see that as we work through the data to find out who is eligible and who is ineligible, we can hopefully impact so many people’s lives in the next few months and be able to help them get on their way to a clear record,” Trusty told Fox43.
She also added that the next step is for the BOP to start looking at each application. “The board is going to take a look [and] review [them] and then they get to vote on moving that forward to the governor,” Trusty explained.
The Pennsylvania Marijuana Pardon Project was created in partnership with Lt. Governor John Fetterman and Gov. Tom Wolf. The application window closed on Sept. 30 in what’s described as a “one-time, large-scale pardon effort,” however those who did not make the deadline can still apply for an expedited pardon.
The timeline for the program estimates that following the application window (Sept. 1-30), the board would meet on Oct. 13 to decide if applicants received a public hearing. Next on Dec. 13-16, the board will vote on applications to send to the governor for a pardon. On Dec. 16 and afterwards, those applications will be sent to the governor, but no time estimate was provided. “The governor is not mandated to act in a specific amount of time after receiving the recommendations,” the program states on its website. Gov. Wolf’s term ends on Jan. 17, 2023, which is why the application window was so brief, the program website adds.
Fetterman, who is currently running for Pennsylvania Senate, has been a staunch proponent of cannabis legalization and its effect on the residents of his state. At the recent 5th Annual Cannabis Opportunities Policy Summit, he described Pennsylvania as “a place for second chances,” which will “help people get pardons quickly for stupid weed convictions.”
At the beginning of September, Fetterman sent out a press release detailing the necessity of legalization from President Joe Biden. “It’s long past time that we finally decriminalize marijuana,” Fetterman said. “The president needs to use his executive authority to begin descheduling marijuana, I would love to see him do this prior to his visit to Pittsburgh. This is just common sense and Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support decriminalizing marijuana.”
Later, Fetterman mentioned a “great conversation” with President Biden about cannabis policy. Two weeks after the Pennsylvania Marijuana Pardon Project went live, Biden’s monumental announcement for cannabis pardons was announced.