BISMARCK -- Gov. Doug Burgum on Friday, Jan. 17, granted 16 pardons under a new policy allowing individuals with low-level marijuana offenses on their records to apply for a summary pardon through a streamlined application process.

The new policy was approved by the state’s Pardon Advisory Board in July, according to a release from the governor's office. It allows individuals to submit a summary pardon application if they have been prosecuted for and convicted of possession of marijuana, ingestion of marijuana, or possession of marijuana paraphernalia and have not had any convictions in the past five years. A total of 32 people applied to be considered for pardons at the advisory board’s November meeting, the release said.

“These pardons are consistent with our recent efforts with the Legislature to reduce the penalties for low-level marijuana offenses and eliminate barriers to employment created by often distant past offenses, as well as with our approach of treating addiction like the disease that it is,” Burgum said in a release. “By removing the stigma of these minor offenses, we can offer individuals a second chance at a successful, healthy and productive life and help address our state’s workforce shortage.”

In addition to the marijuana pardons, Burgum granted pardons in December for 18 individuals recommended by the Pardon Advisory Board, with many of the cases also having substance abuse or addiction as underlying factors.

For more information about pardons, including a link to the summary pardon application, visit the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website at www.docr.nd.gov/parole-pardon-boards.

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