Last week, the Michigan State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision voted to approve the creation of a new medical board that will allow the expungement of marijuana convictions. This is a huge step forward in the legalization of medical marijuana in our state.
As cannabis legalization continues to sweep the nation, so too do efforts by legal cannabis advocates to help those with previous cannabis convictions expunge the records of their arrests, convictions and/or incarcerations. On Thursday November 1st, Cannafest will come to Ann Arbor for a free expungement fair for anyone with a past cannabis conviction.
On September 24th, 2017, the Michigan legislature passed the Health Freedom Protection Act, known as HB 4209, which makes it easier for people with certain criminal convictions to get a clean slate. In less than 30 days, the people of Michigan will vote on whether or not to continue the state’s efforts to help those who have been wrongfully convicted.
Now that Michigan has a legal process to eradicate cannabis convictions, it’s time to put the plans into action and eradicate some of those convictions. To that end, the state held its first record-erasure fair last Wednesday to erase records in record time. Yvonne Morrow was one of those who went to Michigan’s first crime expungement fair to get rid of her 20-year-old drug charge. Although the verdict was handed down long ago, it is still in his file. If it takes someone 20 years to get their marijuana conviction expunged, I mean, come on, she said as she stood in line to get her conviction expunged. The fair offers people the opportunity to completely erase their personal files or get help with this process. Cannabis offences and some criminal cases are still ongoing, and people with criminal records are flocking here to get it over with and make a fresh start in life. Today is the day in history when 718 lives will be freed, dignity will be restored and family trees will be changed forever, Sheriff Christopher Swanson said of the move and the fact that lives will be positively changed by this exciting step in the right direction. Although the event took place in the local police station, there was a nice atmosphere with daffodils and music for those waiting. A team of vaccinators was also present to administer COVID vaccines to those in need. It prevented me from getting a job. Employers won’t hire you if they know what kind of background you have, says Clifton Sanders. Sanders was convicted of possession of a firearm, but the sentence was handed down when he was 16 years old. Today he is 43 years old and is still fighting the aftermath. I was trying to figure out how to get a better job.
Last week’s criminal exemption grant is the first of many
As a result of the success of this fair, more fairs will soon be organized across the state as more and more people seek to have their criminal records expunged. I was personally involved in drafting the bills that changed the state’s criminal exemption law, including for marijuana, said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. These changes give a second chance to residents who would otherwise have to bear the burden of a public criminal record long after they have paid their debt to society. I am grateful to all involved for their support and partnership and look forward to making a difference in the lives of Michigan voters. The new exemption law does not allow for expunging a murder conviction, but even if a person has not been convicted of more than three felonies or an unlimited number of non-murder offenses, he or she can apply to have his or her convictions expunged. Persons with more than three felony convictions are not eligible for the program. Volunteer attorneys from Legal Services of Eastern Michigan and Michigan Works were hired to assist in the waiver process. Staff from the Genesee County Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office also assisted. Today, with our collective efforts, we are addressing the inequality that has plagued generations of Michiganders, especially people of color, said Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist. The update of Michigan’s legislation and events like today’s will have a major positive impact on the hundreds of thousands of residents who faced a confusing and expensive process to apply for delisting. We still have much work to do, but Michigan is proud to be a leader in removing barriers to economic opportunity for people who deserve a second chance.
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