Rally Today Pushes To Expunge Records For Pot Offenses

More than 235,000 have low-level pot infractions

WWJ News
October 28, 2019 - 7:54 am

WWJ / Sandra McNeill

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(WWJ) The push to expunge marijuana convictions in Michigan continues today with a rally in Detroit. 

Legislation to eradicate pot crimes from past criminal records was introduced by State Representatives Isaac Robinson and Jewell Jones -- who will be at today's rally at Nazarene Baptist Church. They say the bill is about removing job and housing barriers and the stigma associated with a criminal record. 

The legislators say the measure could expunge the records of about 235,000 Michiganders with non-violent felonies or low-level marijuana convictions.

Expungement is a promise from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that hasn't yet come to fruition.

Per Metro Times, Whitmer supported the ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana and when it passed in November, she pledged to take "action early next year" to begin clearing minor pot-related convictions from residents' criminal records.

"For conduct that would now be legal, no one should bear a lifelong record for that conduct," the Democrat said at her first press conference as governor-elect.

"She also pledged to use her office's power to pardon some of the thousands of people still behind bars for pot-related offenses that are now legal or just a civil infraction," Metro Times wrote.

But nearly a year after voters legalized recreational marijuana in Michigan, residents who have been convicted of pot offenses still have no way to clear their criminal records, and 3,500 Michigan residents are still behind bars or on probation for felony marijuana offenses.

Metro Times added, that of the 10 states that permit recreational marijuana, Michigan and Alaska are the only ones that have not created a path to expungement for conduct that is now legal. "With even a minor marijuana conviction on their records, residents often face difficulty getting jobs, loans, housing, education, and public assistance."