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Carney says Delaware is already in line with Biden's call to pardon marijuana possession charges

Delaware Public Media

Gov. John Carney responds to President Biden’s call for governors to pardon anyone convicted of simple marijuana possession under state law.

He says Delaware is ahead of the curve, pointing to a 2018 Delaware law making those convicted of small quantities of marijuana eligible to have their convictions expunged.

Carney adds he is unaware of anyone currently incarcerated in the state for simple possession of marijuana alone.

But expungements, which seal parts of a criminal record from public access, are not the same as pardons. They do not clear a person’s record but end any penalties, including allowing a person to leave custody.

Carney says he will approve pardons for any simple marijuana possession charges but does so on a case-by-case basis.

“We are fully implementing the essence of what he’s requesting that we do," he said. "Our process is a little different — I don’t know if anyone has the authority to blanket pardon those charges. But as they come through, and they come through a lot – usually alongside other charges – they’re a no-brainer.”

While Delaware decriminalized marijuana possession in 2015, Carney notes some residents on parole may still do jail time if they test positive for marijuana or are found in possession of the drug.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.