Automatic Expungements for Marijuana Gain Popularity
In recent years, the use of marijuana has become increasingly mainstream. Many states have not only decriminalized marijuana possession, but they have also taken steps to legalize even the recreational use of it. According to U.S. News, recreational marijuana is now legal in Guam, 17 states, and Washington D.C.
While these changes are good news to many, this growing acceptance of marijuana doesn't change the fact that those who have been charged with or convicted of marijuana possession still have a criminal record. A criminal record, even one for an act that's no longer illegal, can remain a cloud on your reputation so long as it's public record or appears in criminal background checks.
Fortunately, more than just the laws regulating marijuana use and possession are changing. Across the nation, citizens are seeing their criminal records relating to minor possession infractions expunged through new legislation. For example, New York recently passed a law legalizing recreational marijuana, and now, CBS reports that New York residents with misdemeanor convictions will see their records automatically expunged from their criminal histories.
Critics of harsh marijuana penalties note that those who've been charged with or convicted of minor possession-related crimes experience job loss, which in turn, can lead to even more severe consequences like homelessness. While automatic expungement of these misdemeanor records won't give back what was taken, it does provide a streamlined route to a second chance.
Are Automatic Marijuana Offense Expungements Coming to Pennsylvania?
While medical marijuana was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2016, citizens have yet to see recreational marijuana use and possession be decriminalized at the state level. This may all change soon, as indicated by a bipartisan bill recently introduced that would serve the purpose of decriminalizing possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana. Proponents note that “Ending prohibition is likely to be a multi-year effort,” but the bill nonetheless signals a changing sentiment among lawmakers.
Currently, Pennsylvania law treats possession of even small amounts of marijuana as a third-degree misdemeanor offense, and unless the charges are dropped, pardoned, or handled through a “Section 17” disposition, the criminal record cannot be expunged. Although the recently enacted Clean Slate Act does help some individuals expunge certain misdemeanor convictions, those seeking the sealing of their records through the Clean Slate Act must be able to demonstrate no criminal activity for the prior 10 years.
Until the time comes when Pennsylvania sees its own version of automatic marijuana expungements passed into law, you may have alternative paths to expungement for related charges or offenses. Don't wait for the state legislature to say how your future should play out, and instead, contact an experienced PA expungement attorney today. Joseph D. Lento can quickly help you determine if your criminal record is eligible for expungement and help you initiate the process so that you can put the past behind you. After all, your criminal record for marijuana-related charges can prevent you from landing your dream job or fulfilling your dreams. To learn how the Lento Law Firm can help you get your future back on track, call 888-535-3686 now.