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New Bipartisan Congressional Bill Seeks To Expunge Federal Marijuana Records



By Maureen Meehan

Congressmen Troy A. Carter, Sr. (D-LA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation on Friday that would create a mechanism for federal misdemeanor marijuana offenses to be expunged, amid a new push for decriminalization at the federal level.

“I’m proud to introduce The Marijuana Misdemeanor Expungement Act, bipartisan legislation that will restore justice to millions of Americans who have suffered inordinate collateral consequences associated with marijuana-related misdemeanors,” said Congressman Carter in a press release. “These misdemeanors — even without a conviction — can result in restrictions to peoples’ ability to access educational aid, housing assistance, occupational licensing and even foster parenting. Delivering justice for our citizens who have been impacted by marijuana-related misdemeanors is a key component of comprehensive cannabis reform.”

marijuana arrest
Photo by Tetiana Strilchuk/Getty Images

Illinois Congressman Davis added, “Given the number of states, like Illinois, where marijuana has long been legalized for adult use, we must ensure that our criminal justice system keeps pace so that individuals with low-level misdemeanor violations related to its use does not preclude them from getting jobs and participating in society.”

Cannabis Reform Advocates Approve

Cannabis reform advocates, including Weldon Angelos, founder and president of the Weldon Project, Roz McCarthy, founder and CEO of Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana and Dr. Chanda Macias, CEO of National Holistic Healing Center shared their support for the legislation.

“For far too long, millions of Americans have been affected by the lifelong consequences of marijuana-related convictions on their record for simply possessing a small quantity of cannabis,” said Angelos who called the bill life-changing for so many people and their families.

McCarthy called the bill landmark legislation that will allow thousands of Americans to move forward with their lives and maximize their full potential. “Addressing the negative societal & economic effects permeated by marijuana prohibition at both the federal and state level will be critical as we seek to deliver comprehensive cannabis reform in this country.”

RELATED: Federal Cannabis Prohibition Has Failed, Sen. Booker Says During Senate Hearing

Dr. Chanda Macias said it is unacceptable that those who have been convicted of low-level marijuana offenses, often disproportionately black and brown people, continue to have convictions hanging over their heads, “especially as cannabis legalization, research, and reform efforts are more supported by the American people than ever before.”

RELATED: Schumer Touts ‘Overwhelming Evidence’ That Cannabis Legalization Doesn’t Increase Crime

The chief justice would have one year upon enactment of the bill to promulgate procedural rules for expungement. Each federal district would have up to two years to “conduct a comprehensive review and issue an order expunging, sealing, and sequestering” pursuant to those rules.

Angelos, McCarthy and Macias will all be at the upcoming Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago, Sept. 13-14. Join us there and meet these extraordinary marijuana reform advocates and many more.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission. 

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Legalization Momentum: Courts Expunge 362K Marijuana Cases In NJ, Arrests Drop 90% In VA




By Franca Quarneti via El Planteo

Marijuana legalization is gaining momentum in the United States, which is increasingly evidenced by decriminalization, reduced sentences and drops in cannabis-related arrests.

For example, in New Jersey, the courts have dismissed or annulled 362,000 cases related to marijuana. In addition, in the Richmond, Virginia area, cannabis-related arrests dropped by 90%.

Who Is Really Getting Busted For Marijuana Possession?
Photo by vladans/Getty Images

Courts dismiss cannabis cases in New Jersey

According to data provided by the New Jersey Judiciary, the state’s courts annulled or dismissed some 362,000 marijuana-related cases since July 1.

150,000 residents are now eligible to have their marijuana-related records automatically expunged by the courts. And, in case those records were not automatically cleared, people can still file an appeal for review with the court.

RELATED: Al Harrington, Drake, Killer Mike Ask Pres. Biden To Pardon All Non-Violent Cannabis Offenders

As reported by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), these new measures come after the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order to dismiss and expunge marijuana-related offenses.

New Jersey is not the only state where this is taking place: In Illinois, authorities expunged 500,000 records, while in California, 200,000 others were expunged.

90% fewer marijuana arrests in Richmond, Va.

According to Ganjapreneur, cannabis-related arrests dropped by more than 90% in the city of Richmond, Virginia since the state’s cannabis law went into effect on July 1 and there were only 25 arrests. In contrast, during the same period last year there were 257 arrests.

RELATED: How The Cannabis Industry Can Help Expunged Individuals Enter The Legal Market

Speaking to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Jean Michelle Pedini, director of NORML and executive director of the state chapter, explained, “The reduction in arrests indicates that public policy is working as intended and in a way that is consistent with post-legalization observations from other states.”

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