With assist from the state’s Republican governor, North Dakota moved on Wednesday to permit hundreds of people to doubtlessly wipe their slate clear of low-level marijuana convictions.

The state’s pardon advisory board unanimously authorised the coverage change, clearing the way in which for these residents to use for a pardon for such convictions and emerge with a transparent document in the event that they keep away from committing a criminal offense for the subsequent 5 years. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Lawyer Common Wayne Stenehjem, each Republicans, assist the transfer.

“By destigmatizing these minor and, in lots of circumstances, distant offenses, we may give people a second likelihood at a profitable, wholesome and productive life,” Burgum mentioned in a statement on Wednesday.

Burgum, who’s in his first time period after profitable election in 2016, added that the brand new coverage may “deal with our state’s workforce scarcity and develop the economic system,” provided that such convictions have confirmed problematic for a lot of people making use of for jobs. 

“There are a number of North Dakotans who’ve this situation,” Stenehjem mentioned, as quoted by the Related Press. “The burden shouldn’t be one thing that particular person has to hold round perpetually.”

Stenehjem mentioned that, ought to the pardon get authorised, the coverage “completely removes a conviction; completely removes guilt.” As many as 175,000 North Dakotans who had been dealt such convictions could possibly be eligible below the brand new coverage. The brand new coverage makes the method extra streamlined and fewer burdensome than it’s presently. People in search of a pardon will now have the ability to fill out a one-and-a-half web page software on-line utterly freed from cost. The deadline for the primary spherical of functions is August 10. 

Stenehjem helps decriminalization for pot, however stays against legalization for leisure use. In Might, Burgum quietly signed a invoice into regulation that relaxed penalties for small quantities of marijuana possession. Underneath the brand new regulation, these busted for the primary time for possession of as much as a half an oz of marijuana or paraphernalia will face a prison infraction, moderately than a misdemeanor. The punishment carries a positive of as a lot as $1000, however crucially, no jail time. 

These going through subsequent expenses may withstand a yr of jail time, nevertheless. These new provisions take impact on August 1. The Marijuana Coverage Undertaking, an advocacy group, mentioned the reclassification was “ removed from perfect, however it’s a substantial step in the precise course.”

North Dakota opened its first medical marijuana dispensary earlier this yr, and there are plans for extra to open quickly. The modifications may signify a demarcation level in how the state offers with marijuana. The state has lengthy taken a stringent place on pot use. In 2016, in accordance with knowledge from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, North Dakota ranked sixth within the nation in per capita arrests for marijuana possession.