Members of both houses of Congress this week reintroduced bipartisan legislation to help states enact policies to expunge convictions for past cannabis crimes. The bill was introduced Wednesday by Republican Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Rep. I was.
If you pass HOPE method Provides federal grants to help states with the financial and administrative burden of expunging past convictions for marijuana-related crimes. The bill was introduced in 2021 but was not scheduled for a hearing or vote in the previous Congress. The bill’s legislator, a vocal proponent of cannabis policy reform at the federal level, said expunging records could help reduce the lasting effects of convictions for minor crimes. I was.
“The majority of minor, non-violent cannabis law violations occur at the state and local level, depriving millions of Americans of basic opportunities such as housing and employment.” Joyce said in a statement. “As both a former public defender and prosecutor, I see first-hand how these barriers can harm families and economic growth in Ohio and across the nation. We are working to remove these barriers in ways that pave the way for the American Dream and rectify the unjust war on cannabis.
The law provides federal grants of up to $20 million over 10 years to state and local governments to clear the record of past marijuana convictions. The funds will be used for technology to automatically erase large numbers of records, clinics to assist individuals targeted for erasure, notification systems to notify people when their records have been erased, administrative costs to seal records, records It can be used to implement partnerships that help eradicate at scale. .
“We continue to advocate for the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, and this bipartisan bill will expunge drug charges that continue to block Americans, especially people of color, from employment, housing, and other opportunities. It will provide the community with the resources it needs to do so,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
Brian Vicente, founding partner of cannabis law firm Vicente LLP, said the legislation complements an executive order issued by President Joseph Biden last year that exempted all federal convictions for simple cannabis possession. said. At the time, the president called on governors to take similar action at the state level, wrote on twitter “Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has taken too many lives for an act that is legal in many states.”
“The HOPE Act lives up to its name. Its reintroduction by the ‘odd couple’ of liberal Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and conservative Rep. Joyce confirms that bipartisan support for marijuana reform exists at the highest levels of government. to the world. high times“It reinforces the fact that key members of Congress agree with the majority of Americans that adults who use marijuana should not face criminal sanctions. Helping to show interest in pardoning those convicted of federal marijuana convictions by providing significant funding to state programs to end state-level marijuana crime declared in 2014. prize.”
The reintroduction of the HOPE Act quickly drew praise from activists and cannabis industry representatives, including the National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform (NORML) and the National Cannabis Roundtable, an industry group advocating for continued cannabis policy reform. Collected.
“The HOPE Act promises just that: hope and a second chance for those suffering the lifelong consequences of state-level marijuana possession arrests,” NORML political director Morgan Fox said in a statement. “As more states roll back their failed policies of criminalizing marijuana consumers, Congress has a duty to help repair the associated harm that has perpetuated it for decades. The law is a big step towards righting the wrongs caused by the ban and improving the lives of millions of people across the country.”
Saphira Garoub, Executive Director of the National Cannabis Roundtable, said, “The only way to remove barriers to employment, education and housing opportunities for those already disproportionately harmed by the federal ban is to eliminate it. Only by: With 38 states now having cannabis programs in place, it is the definition of injustice to continue to deter and punish individuals for what is now a state legal activity.