BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s pardon advisory board took a significant step Wednesday in wiping criminal records clean for 26 people with low-level marijuana convictions, a first under a new policy aimed at fixing problems the records have caused for people trying to find jobs and housing.
With little discussion, the five-member panel approved the pardons in a single motion, instead of individually. The list of people, who have stayed out of trouble for five years, now goes to Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, who is expected to approve the pardons.
“People will really see how easy and quick this is,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who pushed for the policy that started in July.
Stenehjem estimates as many as 175,000 marijuana convictions over several decades could be eligible. The Republican said his office will contact attorneys statewide urging them to let their former clients know of the change.
Stenehjem does not support legalizing recreational pot, but he has long backed legislation that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
North Dakota already had allowed people to apply for pardons to remove marijuana-related offenses from their records, but the process was burdensome, the attorney general said. While the new