High Time for Criminal Justice Reform: Marijuana Expungement Statutes in States with Legalized or Decriminalized Marijuana Laws
53 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2019
Date Written: February 1, 2019
As states continue to legalize or decriminalize recreational marijuana, there is a chasm within our society. One segment of the population can use, possess, transport, and cultivate marijuana without fear of prosecution. Another segment of the population suffers from the collateral consequences of previous marijuana-related offenses. This Article argues that any state that enacts marijuana legalization or decriminalization statutes should automatically include an expungement provision that clears the criminal record of individuals who engaged in activities now deemed lawful under the new legalization and decriminalization laws. This Article proposes model language for an expungement statute that serves as a guide for legislators, judges, and attorneys. The proposed expungement statute will help individuals obtain access to opportunities and benefits now denied them because of their marijuana-related criminal records including employment, professional licenses, financial aid, public housing, travel abroad, firearms’ purchases, the right to vote, and jury service. Changes to the law will also benefit communities that have been disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs and marijuana prohibition.
Keywords: Marijuana, Cannabis, Marijuana Laws, Marijuana Statutes, Expungement Statutes, Expungement, Expunge, Decriminalization, Legalization, Criminal Justice, Social Justice
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