PORTLAND, Ore. (CBS Seattle) — The state of Oregon is expunging marijuana violations from citizens’ records, according to a new report.
Portland’s Metropolitan Public Defender’s office is conducting “expungement clinics” in which records of past pot crimes will be indefinitely sealed as a way to prevent pot tickets haunting users for life and ruining job opportunities.
One 43-year-old mother interviewed in The New York Times report told her story of handing a bong to an officer over two decades ago. The incident has disqualified her from jobs and prevented her from volunteering at her child’s school. But with the records being erased, no one will see that conviction again.
Experts say Oregon’s efforts to erase these records signal a state going further than ever before. Any citizens with a low-level felony or misdemeanor on their record 10 years or older will qualify for a clean record, if they have not re-offended. More serious convictions, like growing marijuana, may be eligible for record sealing in 2016.
A new law says that courts must use standards of full marijuana legalization when considering clearing records and that citizens who were under 21 at the time are eligible for fast-track record sealing.
Other states like California and Colorado are also facing the issue of previous offenders having records for acts that might no longer be considered crimes.
Experts note that any adult-use legalization initiative that appears on a ballot is expected to face controversy for releasing people convicted of crimes, or for keeping them in jail.