Senate OKs bill to vacate some marijuana convictions

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington Senate has passed a measure that makes it easier for people with previous misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions to have those convictions vacated.

The bill passed on a 29-19 vote Monday and now heads to the House for consideration. The vote comes two months after Gov. Jay Inslee announced his plan to pardon people convicted of possession charges, and more than six years after the state legalized adult use of recreational marijuana. As of Monday, the governor’s office said that 17 pardon orders had been signed and two were awaiting Inslee’s signature.

Under current law, a sentencing court already has the discretion to vacate an applicant’s misdemeanor conviction record, except in several circumstances, including where criminal charges are pending against the person, fewer than three years have passed since they completed their sentence, or if they’ve been convicted of a new crime since the date of conviction.

The measure that passed the Senate Monday provides an exemption from those circumstances for marijuana misdemeanor possession cases.