Loading

Expungement

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 30, 2019

    Those with low-level marijuana convictions are being encouraged to seek pardons from state officials.

    The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons has created an expedited process to review and grant pardon applications for those with marijuana-related records. There is no fee associated with filing an application.

    Those who receive pardons are then encouraged to apply with county officials to have their criminal records expunged from the public domain.

    “[O]ne thing we can do right now is alleviate the burden of small-amount, nonviolent convictions that scar the lives of otherwise productive citizens,” Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman said. “These people have done no harm to anyone else. They shouldn’t continue to suffer with employment and housing issues because they were convicted of doing something that most Pennsylvanians don’t even think should be illegal.”

    Last week, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro both publicly endorsed plans to legalize the adult use of cannabis in the state and to expunge criminal records. Wolf’s announcement marks a change in his prior position, and came shortly after the conclusion of a county-by-county listening tour during which members of the public were asked to share their views on the subject of marijuana policy.

    “We now know the majority of Pennsylvanians are in favor of legalization, and that includes me,” Gov. Wolf said in a prepared statement. Based upon public feedback, officials estimated that between 65 and 70 percent of Pennsylvanians endorse legalizing marijuana.

    Attorney General Shapiro added, “Continuing to criminalize adult personal marijuana use is a waste of limited law enforcement resources, it disproportionately impacts our minority communities and it does not make us safer.”

    In response to the announcement, Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives issued a statement expressing “disappointment” and “frustration:” with the Governor. “We do not believe [that] easing regulations on illegal drugs is the right move,” they said.

    Under state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a criminal record.

  • by Stephen M. Komie, NORML Legal Committee September 23, 2019

    On June 25, 2019, Governor JB Pritzker signed into law a revision of the Illinois Cannabis Control Act, 720 ILCS 550.1 et seq. Commencing January 1, 2020, Illinois residents will be authorized to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis for usage as they desire.  Non-residents do not have the same exception from the criminal penalties. Non-residents are limited to 15 grams. Between now and January 1, 2020 the law remains in effect prohibiting possession of marijuana except for persons who have Illinois Medical Marijuana Cards.  

    Illinois has an estimated 770,000 marijuana related criminal records which are now eligible for clemency by Governor Pritzker. Prior to January 1, 2020 expungements remain in effect for persons who received court supervision, or were not convicted, or had their case dismissed after a motion to suppress, or the prosecution declined to proceed.  Those expungements remain available in the normal manner.

    Executive clemency is not an expungement.  Executive clemency is the power of the governor to exonerate or forgive persons who have committed crimes. Persons who have had arrests for 30 grams or less will have the Illinois State Police and local police agencies examine their arrests over a 6-month period after January 1, 2020.  The police agencies will have 6 months to find those records. For all who were convicted of 30 grams or less, the state and local police are required to send those records within 6 months to the Governor’s Prisoner Review Board.  The law charges the Prisoner Review Board with the obligation to review each case for eligibility for clemency. The criteria to be employed is 1) is it the same person as reported arrested; 2) is the record a correct record; and 3) there must be an absence of any violent offense involved with the arrest.  Once cleared by the Prisoner Review Board, the Prisoner Review Board will make a recommendation to Governor Pritzker.  

    It is expected that Governor Pritzker is most likely to issue hundreds of thousands of pardons during the remainder of his four-year term in office. The Governor has announced that it will be a very streamlined process. This, of course, remains to be seen. After a pardon is issued, Attorney General of Illinois Kwame Raoul, acting on behalf of the Prisoner Review Board, will appear before a circuit judge to seek expungement for the cases where clemency is granted by the Governor.  It is expected that hundreds of thousands of persons will be relieved of their criminal record which prevented them from receiving government benefits such as housing and welfare.  

    For people who were arrested with 30 to 500 grams the expungement process remains in effect. Except for the first-time offenders, those persons may request the court to vacate their conviction and expunge the records. 

    This reform is unprecedented in Illinois law and will be a first.  The arresting police agency can object to the request to vacate the conviction and expunge the record. The law directs the court to consider the defendant’s age at the time of the offense, the current age of the defendant, and any adverse consequences which would accompany denial of the expungement.  

    As with all developments in the law, every person’s case is different and requires the advice of a skilled attorney who is knowledgeable in the area of criminal law and expungement. I would urge all members of NORML who have criminal records for zero to 30 grams and 30 grams to 500 grams to consult with your local member of the NORML Legal Committee to determine your eligibility for clemency and/or expungement.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 28, 2019

    Legislation reducing marijuana possession penalties and facilitating the expungement of past cannabis convictions took effect today.

    Assembly Bill 8420-A reduces the penalty for minor marijuana possession violations (up to one ounce) to a $50 fine. It also amends penalties for offenses involving the possession of more than one ounce but less than two ounces of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by up to three months in jail) to a non-criminal violation punishable by a $200 fine – regardless of an offender’s prior criminal history.

    The new law also amends the classification of offenses involving the use or possession of marijuana in public from a criminal misdemeanor, formerly punishable by up to 90 days in jail, to a fine-only offense. In New York City, police have made over 700,000 arrests for ‘public view’ violations. Eight-six percent of those arrested were either Black or Latino.

    Finally, A. 8420-A establishes procedures to allow for the automatic expungement of criminal records specific to crimes involving the possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana. Several hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are eligible for expungement under the plan.

    Assembly Bill 8420-A was negotiated in the closing days of the 2019 legislative session after lawmakers failed to agree on provisions of a marijuana legalization measure.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 20, 2019

    A coalition of activist groups, including Arizona NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the state chapter of the ACLU, have filed language with the Secretary of State seeking to legalize the adult use and dispensing of cannabis.

    The Smart and Safe Arizona Act, which was drafted with input from Arizona NORML State Director Michael Weisser, permits those age 21 and over to legally possess, purchase, and grow personal use amounts of cannabis and/or cannabis-infused products. The proposed measure also allows those with marijuana convictions to petition the court for an expungement of their records, among other legal and regulatory changes.

    “Since the failure of 2016 another 30,000 Arizonans have been arrested for cannabis possession,” Weisser acknowledged. “I committed myself and Arizona NORML to making ourselves as central as possible to any 2020 campaign to make sure our values were protected.”

    A 2016 statewide initiative effort in Arizona failed by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent.

    Advocates must collect 237,645 valid signatures from voters by July 2, 2020 in order to place the Smart and Safe Arizona Act on the November 2020 ballot.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow NORML on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and become a member today!

     

  • by NORML July 23, 2019

    Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY) introduced The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. The Senate companion bill is carried by Senator Kamala Harris (CA). 

    “After nearly a century of prohibition, it is clear this policy has been an absolute failure and a national disgrace. All we have to show for the war we have waged on marijuana is the egregious harms it has wrought upon tens-of-millions of our fellow citizens. By passing the MORE Act, Congress can begin to remedy the pain caused by the criminalization of marijuana. This bill provides a real federal solution by fully descheduling of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and providing relief to those suffering under the collateral consequences of having a marijuana charge on their record by facilitating the process of expungements. The American public is overwhelmingly ready to legalize marijuana, their elected officials in Washington need to finally start representing the will of the people and advance this sensible legislation,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. 

    The MORE Act is the most comprehensive marijuana reform bill ever introduced in the US Congress and is backed by a broad coalition of civil rights, criminal justice, drug policy, and immigration groups. 

    Send a message to your lawmakers in support of the bill now! 

    “Never in American history has the Chairman of the Judiciary introduced a bill to end federal marijuana criminalization. At a time when the state you live in can determine whether cannabis can ruin your life or make you a millionaire, now more than ever we must end the national prohibition of marijuana. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act embodies the need to legalize cannabis and restore the rights of those who have suffered under the cruel and failed policy of criminalization,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. 

    If enacted, the bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus decriminalizing the substance at the federal level and enabling states to set their own policies. Descheduling will also allow the existing state-legal marijuana industry to no longer be barred from accessing financial services or standard tax treatment as every other legal business. Similarly, veterans will have better access to medical marijuana with VA doctors no longer risking federal prosecution for filling out state-legal medical recommendations.

    Given the restrictions the marijuana industry has had to abide by under section 280E of the IRS code, existing enterprises would have a significantly lower overall tax burden than under the current policy of prohibition. 

    The bill would tax marijuana products at a modest 5% to establish a Trust Fund to assist state and local governments in expunging criminal records and setting up regulatory structures for marijuana’s lawful production and distribution.

     The Trust Fund would have three functions:

    1. A fund administrated by a newly created Office of Cannabis Justice to issue grants to communities negatively impacted by the war on drugs for the development of expungement processes, employment programs, reentry guidance, youth resources and more. The Office of Cannabis would be one of the Justice Programs in the Department of Justice. This provision is modeled on the Marijuana Justice Act, by Senator Cory Booker (NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (CA).
    2. A fund administered by the Small Business Administration to encourage socially and economically disadvantaged people to enter the cannabis industry, similar to legislation introduced by Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (NY).
    3. A fund administered by the Small Business Administration to create equitable licensing programs in states and local governments that benefit communities most impacted by the prohibition.

    Currently, individuals with a marijuana conviction are saddled with collateral consequences, including a prohibition from obtaining federal benefits, student loans, or security clearances for government jobs due to marijuana’s criminalized status. To correct the historical injustices relating to prohibition, the MORE Act offers the opportunity to petition for resentencing and expungement. This will eliminate this discrimination and create new opportunities for individuals desperate to advance their careers, education, and quality of life. Immigrants will also benefit from the MORE Act because they will no longer be subject to deportation or citizenship denial solely based on a marijuana infraction. 

    Send a message in support of The MORE Act in less than 30 seconds now!

Page 1 of 1112345...10...Last »