Most Pennsylvanians know House Bill 1180 as the bill that would legalize marijuana in the state. Introduced in mid-April 2021 by Representative David Delloso, D-Ridley Park, the bill would make marijuana use legal for anyone over 21 and place regulation control of the substance in the hands of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PCLB).
Equally as significant, though, HB 1180 also includes provisions for a new marijuana arrest and conviction expungement process. While Pennsylvania already has procedures in place for expedited review of non-violent marijuana convictions, this new proposal could literally free thousands of people in the state.
Act 56 Paved the Way
The Pennsylvania state legislature, like many state legislatures around the country, has in recent years taken up the issue of arrest and conviction expungement in earnest. Lawmakers are especially anxious to provide relief for convicted drug offenders, who often face a lifetime of discrimination for an offense that many parts of the country have already legalized.
Most recently, for example, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 56, the Pennsylvania “Clean Slate” Act, into law in 2018. This law helped to expedite the expungement process in the state, making it easier to petition the courts to have a conviction removed from your criminal record. In fact, for certain low-level, non-violent offenses, including many marijuana-based offenses, the courts now automatically seal records five years after a conviction. This means those past convictions no longer show up on background checks. In addition, the governor's office has set up an expedited pardon program aimed specifically at marijuana offenses.
The Promise of HB 1180
While Act 56 was an important step forward, HB 1180 would go even further in helping to remove the stigma associated with marijuana usage. It would offer a fresh start to those who have been arrested or convicted for such offenses in the past. The bill calls for expunging all low-level, non-violent cannabis convictions immediately, and would mandate the release of anyone currently in jail or prison as the result of such a conviction.
Should it pass, Representative Delloso notes that HB1180 could potentially create a $1.6 billion industry employing 18,000 people. More importantly, though, it could free thousands of Pennsylvanians and allow thousands more to clear their names
Help with Expungement
No one can say with certainty whether HB 1180 will eventually become law. Since its introduction in April 2021, the bill has attracted more sponsors: currently, the number sits at fourteen. At present, it has been referred to the PCLB for further comment.
In the meantime, though, a process already exists for expunging marijuana convictions. If you're looking for a clean start, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today to get the ball rolling. Joseph D. Lento has personally handled thousands of expungement cases. He knows the system inside and out, and he knows exactly how to guide you through the entire expungement process.
Don't let a criminal conviction for marijuana possession keep you from living your life. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.
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