Washington was one of the first states in the country to legalize marijuana. As more and more states pass similar laws, fewer Americans than ever will face the risk of getting arrested and charged with marijuana possession. But for those with a cannabis-related crime on their records, the trend toward legalization may have come too late.
Punishment long after you served your sentence
A drug crime on your record can be a terrible drag on your life. Many times, people in the Seattle area who have a years-old possession conviction on their record struggle to rent a place to live, get a job or obtain a bank loan — anything that involves a criminal background check. Explaining that they made a mistake many years ago and that they are not the same person anymore often does not work. This can trap people in a cycle of poverty and recidivism.
Since 2019, Washington has allowed for expungement of low-level marijuana possession convictions. But not every state that has legalized or decriminalized cannabis has done the same thing. A bill recently introduced in the U.S. House would encourage more states to take action. It is called the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act.
Funding for marijuana expungements
The HOPE Act would provide $20 million to the U.S. Attorney General, who would spend the money helping state and local governments with the process of reviewing and expunging marijuana convictions. The bill’s sponsors hope that this financial help would encourage more governments to expand expungement opportunities.
Something that could help you
If an old marijuana conviction has followed you around for years and held you back from your dreams, expungement is something to consider.