Federal cannabis policy reform efforts have gained momentum this year; the U.S. House approved the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act for the second time in April and signed off on the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act for the seventh time last month, while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., formally introduced his long-awaited Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) July 21.
Now, lawmakers are taking steps to ensure that past federal cannabis-related misdemeanors can be expunged.
Rep. Troy Carter, D-La., introduced The Marijuana Misdemeanor Expungement Act July 29 to create a federal expungement process to clear non-felony offenses, according to a press release from Carter’s office.
Carter said the legislation, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., “will restore justice to millions of Americans who have suffered inordinate collateral consequences associated with marijuana-related misdemeanors.”
“These misdemeanors—even without a conviction—can result in restrictions to peoples’ ability to access educational aid, housing assistance, occupational licensing and even foster parenting,” Carter said in a public statement. “Delivering justice for our citizens who have been impacted by marijuana-related misdemeanors is a key component of comprehensive cannabis reform.”
“Given the number of states, like Illinois, where marijuana has long been legalized for adult-use, we must ensure that our criminal justice system keeps pace so that individuals with low-level misdemeanor violations related to its use does not preclude them from getting jobs and participating in society,” Davis said in a public statement.
Industry advocates applauded the bipartisan legislation Friday.
“The National Cannabis Roundtable and our members are committed to cannabis reforms that right past wrongs and advance social equity,” Saphira Galoob, executive director of the National Cannabis Roundtable, said in a public statement. “The Marijuana Misdemeanor Expungement Act does just that. We applaud Rep. Carter for his strong leadership on cannabis reform, and we wholeheartedly support this landmark legislation.”
“This landmark legislation will allow countless Americans to move forward with their lives, remove an impediment to economic progress and restore the ability to maximize their full potential—both for themselves and their families,” Roz McCarthy, founder and CEO of Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana (M4MM), said in a public statement. “Addressing the negative societal and economic effects permeated by marijuana prohibition at both the federal and state level will be critical as we seek to deliver comprehensive cannabis reform in this country. I want to thank Rep. Carter for introducing The Marijuana Misdemeanor Expungement Act, support expeditious movement through the procedural process and I look forward to working with them to move this bill forward in the weeks to come."