Cleveland residents with certain cannabis possession convictions may soon have their records expunged. They would no longer have criminals record for the convictions, and would not have to report them on employment applications, according to News 5 Cleveland.
On April 6, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, Chief Prosecutor Aqueelah Jordan, and Council President Blaine Griffin signed a motion calling for the expungement of more than 4,000 cannabis convictions, according to Cleveland news media.
“We are seeing progress in Washington on this issue, but it’s slow. There are immediate steps we can take right now in Cleveland to clear the names of over 4,000 residents who deserve a fresh start,” Bibb said in a statement. “This is just one way we can make progress on criminal justice reform to balance the scales and remove barriers to employment and re-entry.”
Cleveland Municipal Court Presiding Judge Michelle D. Early and the other judges of the court must sign to expunge the minor misdemeanor cases, according to News 5. The cases, dating back to 2017, are for possession of 200 grams or less.
In 2020, Cleveland City Council passed legislation to reduce misdemeanor possession penalties to include no prison time or fines. Since that legislation passed, 455 people were mistakenly charged, per the prosecutor’s office.
"This is a great day," Griffin said, according to the Cleveland Scene. "It has always been our intent to take the logical next step, after we decriminalized marijuana and made it zero jail time, to seal these misdemeanor cases in Cleveland. This is a natural progression of what we've been working on, and I'm happy that all of council can stand with the mayor today."