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Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf Pardons Over 2,500, Nearly 400 for Nonviolent Cannabis Offenses

Pennsylvania residents who are not guilty of any cannabis-related offenses may be eligible for a second chance. This is an encouraging sign that relief will soon come.

On Jan. 12, Gov. Tom Wolf issued 369 more pardons to bring his total to 2,540. Nearly 400 pardons were given under an expedited process to review nonviolent cannabis-related charges.

“I have taken this process very seriously—reviewing and giving careful thought to each and every one of these 2,540 pardons and the lives they will impact. Every single one of the Pennsylvanians who made it through the process truly deserves their second chance, and it’s been my honor to grant it,” said Gov. Wolf. 

“A record prevents positive forward motion in a person’s life, and can spark a repetitive cycle of defeat. I firmly believe that with restored rights, pardoned Pennsylvanians prove themselves by stepping up and giving back to our communities.”

This 2,540 pardon is the largest ever granted by a Pennsylvania governor. The governor before Gov. Wolf, Gov. Ed Rendell was the record holder with 1,122 pardons.

Governor. Wolf’s pardons, 395 of those were part of the expedited review process for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses and 232 were a part of the PA Marijuana Pardon Project.

2019 saw the introduction of the Board of Pardons and Lieutenant Governor. John Fetterman approved the Expedited Review Program to Nonviolent Marijuana Related Offenses. This program is intended to accelerate the process of pardon applications for those with nonviolent cannabis possession and paraphernalia convictions. 

PA Marijuana Pardon Project (PA Marijuana Pardon Project) is a large-scale, one-off pardoning program for individuals convicted of certain minor and non-violent cannabis offenses. The Governor is the project’s leader. Wolf, former Lieutenant Governor. Fetterman was annouced on September 1, 2022. This provides a quicker way to the process.

“Nobody should be turned down for a job, housing, or volunteering at your child’s school because of some old nonviolent weed charge, especially given that most of us don’t even think this should be illegal,” Fetterman said at the time. Fetterman, who assumed office Jan. 3, is the U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

In legal terms, a pardon constitutes total forgiveness by the state for a ​criminal conviction, regardless of whether ​the sentence included time in prison, and allows for expungement of the related criminal record. Individuals seeking clemency can apply for a pardon at no cost. This change occurred during the Wolf Administration. Under the administration, the pardons process was modernized so that the application process is more streamlined, and the application fees are now waived. You can download the application online. The process doesn’t require you to be a lawyer.

A report released in 2020 by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia—analyzing 10 years of pardons data—found that pardons contributed $16.5 million to Pennsylvania’s economy over the past decade at “no cost to anyone.”

After coming to terms with cannabis more recently, the governor supports it consistently over the years. In 2021 Gov. Tom Wolf reiterated his desire to abolish Pennsylvania’s pot prohibition. It’s a change in tune for Wolf, who in 2017 said that Pennsylvania wasn’t ready to legalize recreational pot use. Two of Pennsylvania’s neighbors, New Jersey and New York, helped push the state into adopting its own cannabis market.

Gov. Wolf was elected to two terms. The governor’s Priorities for Pennsylvania is helping to fuel Pennsylvania’s economic comeback, and the latest round of pardons is helping to further improve his image.