Will Governor Beshear pardon marijuana possession?

Posted at 5:40 PM, Oct 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-13 17:40:12-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Governor Andy Beshear is considering state pardons for simple marijuana possession, per President Joe Biden's recommendation.

However, he wants people to know the pardons may not have the same impact they did on the federal level, or even in other states.

"I’m actively considering what he’s asked, even though it doesn’t have the same result of pardoning felonies that it does under the federal system," said Beshear.

Last week, Biden pardoned people with federal felony convictions for simple marijuana possession, and he urged the country's governors to act on the state level.

"No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana," said Biden.

Beshear agrees with that sentiment, but he says there are some differences between federal and state laws. In Kentucky, simple possession of marijuana is not a felony. It is a misdemeanor.

"Nobody should ever go to jail for simple possession of marijuana and right now, in Kentucky, they don’t," said Beshear.

Beshear specified that that only applies to simple marijuana possession. If there are other additional charges, the situation is different.

However, if it is just a simple marijuana possession conviction, Beshear says that is eligible for expungement in Kentucky.

"You can get this removed from your record completely — meaning if you go through the process, it wouldn’t even show up on a search," said Beshear. "A pardon is different. A pardon would show up on that search, if not expunged. Then, you would provide proof of your pardon."

However, Beshear says he's still looking into the pardons because they may still help some people.

"I’m just trying to set out the context that things are a little different here in Kentucky, but nonetheless, some people may have a hard time getting a job because of a misdemeanor simple possession conviction," he said.

So, Beshear said has asked the Administrative Office of the Courts for more information on how many Kentuckians could be eligible for a state pardon on a possession-only charge.

To apply for expungement or a pardon, click here.