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Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Expunge Federal Marijuana Convictions

A.J. Herrington

By A.J. Herrington

August 2, 2022

The legs of a woman wearing socks with images of cannabis leaf on the beach

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A bipartisan duo of lawmakers introduced legislation last week that creates a mechanism to expunge

misdemeanor convictions and provides “an expedited, orderly process that clears the deck of non-felony marijuana offenses lingering in the federal system.” The legislation, known as the , was introduced in the House of Representatives on July 29 by Democratic Rep. Troy Carter of Louisiana and Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican from Illinois.

Carter characterized the measure as a “bipartisan legislation that will restore justice to millions of Americans who have suffered inordinate collateral consequences associated with marijuana-related misdemeanors.” 

“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,”

in a statement from his office. “Delivering justice for our citizens who have been impacted by marijuana-related misdemeanors is a key component of comprehensive cannabis reform.”

Carter and Davis noted that marijuana is now legal for medical or recreational purposes in 38 states, adding that the legislation introduced last week “would deliver justice for countless Americans whose lives have been disrupted and deprived because of a misdemeanor Marijuana offense.”

“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,” said Davis.

The legislation is the latest attempt by Democrats and moderate Republicans to reform the nation’s marijuana policy. Already this year, the House of Representatives has passed the MORE Act, legislation to remove criminal penalties for those who possess, produce or distribute cannabis, and the SAFE Banking Act, a bill that would enable marijuana business to obtain banking services. And last week, Democrats in the Senate including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon and New Jersey’s Sen. Cory Booker that would federally legalize and tax marijuana, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. But none of those bills are likely to gain approval in the Senate.

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Legislation Supported By Cannabis Justice Advocates

The new bill from Carter and Davis is supported by cannabis justice reform advocates and representatives of the regulated cannabis industry. Weldon Angelos, a former federal cannabis prisoner, is the president of the Weldon Project, an organization dedicated to funding social change and financial aid for those who are still serving prison time for cannabis-related offenses. 

“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.. “I want to thank Congressman Troy Carter for introducing this bill, which will be nothing short of lifechanging for so many people and their families. Our country must move toward a post-prohibition approach to federal cannabis law and create a mechanism to expunge low-level violations of federal marijuana law.”

Roz McCarthy, the founder and CEO of Florida-base Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana, said that the Marijuana Misdemeanor Expungement Act “will allow countless Americans to move forward with their lives, remove an impediment to economic progress and restore the ability to maximize their full potential — both for themselves and their families.” 

“Addressing the negative societal and 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,” said McCarthy. “I want to thank Representative Carter for introducing The Marijuana Misdemeanor Expungement Act, support expeditious movement through the procedural process and I look forward to working with them to move this bill forward in the weeks to come.”

“The National Cannabis Roundtable and our members are committed to cannabis reforms that right past wrongs and advance social equity. The Marijuana Misdemeanor Expungement Act does just that,” added Saphira Galoob, executive director of the industry group. “We applaud Representative Carter for his strong leadership on cannabis reform, and we wholeheartedly support this landmark legislation.”

A.J. Herrington

About The Author

A.J. Herrington

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.

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