The American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted a policy calling on states to expunge criminal records for individuals that were incarcerated for cannabis offenses that have since been legalized or decriminalized. The policy was adopted at the AMA’s House of Delegates meeting despite the organization’s opposition to broad cannabis legalization.
AMA Trustee Scott Ferguson, M.D. said criminal records associated with cannabis affect “young people aspiring to careers in medicine as well as many others who are denied housing, education, loans, and job opportunities.”
“It simply isn’t fair to ruin a life based on actions that result in convictions but are subsequently legalized or decriminalized. … Expungement is no panacea. It can be a lengthy and expensive process. Automatic expungement would relieve people of having to figure out and pay for the bureaucratic steps necessary for sealing a criminal record,” — Ferguson in a statement
The policy also calls for ending probation, parole, or other court-related supervision because of cannabis-related offenses. The AMA notes that Black people are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than White people despite similar rates of use.
The AMA indicated that it will discuss expungement with the Association of American Medical Colleges, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, Federation of State Medical Boards, and other relevant medical education and licensing authorities to determine the impact of disclosure of a cannabis-related offense on a medical school, residency or licensing application.
The organization said the policy “aims to introduce equity and fairness into the fast-changing effort to legalize cannabis.”
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