As 2021 Comes to a Close, Over 1,000 Cannabis Pardons Issued


The last week of December were busy ones for Colorado Governor Jared Polis, D, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, D. Each governor issued a large number of cannabis pardons. These pardons formally apologized to individuals for their previous crimes now legal under current law. This opens up opportunities for these individuals to potentially hold public office or receive certain professional licenses. A pardon isn’t exactly like a record expungement. The crime is still on the record, but it is excused and civil rights are restored. 


On Tuesday December 28, Governor Tony Evers pardoned 30 individuals convicted of nonviolent cannabis cases and other drug offenses. 21 cases were related to possession and sale of a controlled substance, such as cannabis. 

“I’m proud of our work to give a second chance to folks who’ve made amends and paid their debt to society,” said Governor Evers. “These individuals have recognized and acknowledged their past mistakes, and this sends a powerful message of redemption as each of them work to build a brighter, better future for themselves and their communities.”

In a press release, the governor listed off every individual pardoned. Each pardon described how old the individual had been as well as what they had done in the years since. For example, “Nicholas Smith was 18 years old when officers pulled him over and found marijuana in his vehicle,” the press release stated. “Since then, he has earned his associate and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and remains dedicated to his career and his family in Missouri.”

In the three years Governor Evers has been in office, his total pardon count comes to 337. He has been pushing for legalization through his budget plan and press conferences. However, he continues to receive pushback from several lawmakers in the Senate. This continues to delay any cannabis reform measures from moving forward. 


In the state that first legalized recreational cannabis in 2012, Colorado Governor Jared Polis pardoned another 1,351 individuals convicted of possessing two ounces or less of cannabis on Thursday December 30. Previously, in 2020, Governor Polis pardoned 2,732 individuals convicted of possessing one ounce or less of cannabis. This brings the governor’s total pardons well over three thousand. 

“Adults can legally possess marijuana in Colorado, just as they can beer or wine,” the governor said in a press release. “It’s unfair that 1,351 additional Coloradans had permanent blemishes on their record that interfered with employment, credit, and gun ownership, but today we have fixed that by pardoning their possession of small amounts of marijuana that occurred during the failed prohibition era.”

Individuals who believe they qualify for a state pardon for cannabis possession charges are encouraged to apply for a pardon.

Next Steps

Lawmakers continue moving forward for those most affected by the war on cannabis and the war on drugs. Individuals in Wisconsin and Colorado are thankful for the pardons and can continue to move forward. As more information or other states grant pardons, we will update you with the latest.

Make sure to check back for more cannabis, hemp, and psychedelic related news.