Congress introduces bill to seal marijuana-related criminal records
A bipartisan bill reintroduced to congress aims to give new hope to former convicts with nonviolent criminal records involved with marijuana.
Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) filed the Clean Slate Act in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, which would seal federal criminal records of people arrested for minor federal cannabis offenses, the Marijuana Moment reports.
According to Philly.com, the bill is modeled after a first-of-its-kind law enacted by Pennsylvania last year, which gives residents with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions the choice to have their records sealed if they go 10 years without any further criminal records.
“If our goal is to reduce recidivism and improve the lives of millions of Americans, we cannot allow hard working citizens who served their time to be defined by their worst mistakes in life,” Blunt Rochester said in a press release. “With an inerasable criminal record, they are locked out of the American Dream. It becomes harder to get a good-paying job, pursue education or training, and own a home. This creates a system that leaves many hopeless and trapped in a cycle of poverty, and it is time we broke that cycle.”
The proposed legislation would also allow people to petition federal courts to seal records from other nonviolent offenses that aren’t automatically sealed under the bill. Under current federal law, there is no way to seal or expunge criminal records.
Cannabis legalization advocates say that the bill doesn’t go far enough, however.
“The data is always there,” said Chris Goldstein, a spokesperson for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, to Philly.com. “The data can get mishandled or misappropriated. Unless it is expunged, it can always come back to bite you.”
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is now drafting a Senate companion bill, and is seeking a Republican co-sponsor.
Oscar Pascual is the editor of Smell the Truth, syndicated on GreenState and SFGATE. Smell The Truth is one of the internet’s most popular destinations for cannabis-related news and culture. This blog is not written or edited by Hearst. The authors are solely responsible for the content.