Friday, January 17, 2020 - 02:00pm

Gov. Doug Burgum today granted 16 pardons under a new policy allowing individuals with low-level marijuana offenses on their records to apply for a summary pardon through a streamlined application process.

The new policy was approved by the state’s Pardon Advisory Board in July. It allows individuals to submit a summary pardon application if they have been prosecuted for and convicted of possession of marijuana, ingestion of marijuana, or possession of marijuana paraphernalia, and have not had any convictions in the past five years. Thirty-two people applied under the new policy to be considered for pardons for misdemeanor offenses at the advisory board’s November meeting.

“These pardons are consistent with our recent efforts with the Legislature to reduce the penalties for low-level marijuana offenses and eliminate barriers to employment created by often distant past offenses, as well as with our approach of treating addiction like the disease that it is,” Burgum said. “By removing the stigma of these minor offenses, we can offer individuals a second chance at a successful, healthy and productive life and help address our state’s workforce shortage.”

In addition to the marijuana pardons, Burgum granted pardons in December for 18 individuals recommended by the Pardon Advisory Board, with many of the cases also having substance abuse or addiction as underlying factors. To be eligible for a pardon, an individual must have encountered a significant problem with the consequences of their conviction or sentence, such as the inability to obtain or maintain licensure or certifications necessary for employment. All 34 individuals who were granted full pardons today or in December had successfully completed all terms and conditions of their sentences.

“Every recommended pardon is carefully reviewed with a strong focus on public safety and victims’ rights to ensure that the pardon is solving a problem for an individual and not creating one for society,” Burgum said.

For more information about pardons, including a link to the summary pardon application, visit the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website at

The governor appoints the Pardon Advisory Board. By law, its membership must consist of the Attorney General, two members of the North Dakota Parole Board and two at-large members.