Bipartisan Federal Bill Encourages States to Expunge Cannabis Convictions

A bipartisan cannabis bill by Reps. Dave Joyce (R) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) would offer grants to states and local governments to establish and improve cannabis expungement programs.

Full story after the jump.

A federal bipartisan bill to incentivize states and local governments to expunge non-violent cannabis crimes was introduced on Thursday by Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Marijuana Moment reports. The measure the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act would provide grants to states that would help cover administrative costs associated with identifying and clearing eligible cases.

The bill includes $2 million in federal funding to support the program from 2023 through 2032.

“Reforming cannabis law is not a partisan issue. Americans in both parties overwhelming support it. … As we continue to advocate for the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, this bill will provide needed resources to expunge drug charges that continue to hold back Americans – disproportionately people of color – from employment, housing and other opportunity.” Ocasio-Cortez via Twitter

The legislation requires states to “submit to the attorney general an application at such time, in such manner and containing such information as the attorney general may reasonably require” to qualify for the program, the bill states. It would also require the attorney general to conduct a study on the impacts of cannabis convictions on both individuals and states that jail people for low-level, non-violent cannabis crimes.

Joyce said that his sponsorship with Ocasio-Cortez on the proposal “goes to show that lawmakers don’t have to agree on everything to find common ground on solutions to the challenges facing everyday Americans.”

“By helping states establish and improve expungement programs for minor cannabis offenses, the HOPE Act will pave the way for expanded economic opportunities to thrive alongside effective investments to redress the consequences of the War on Drugs,” Joyce said in a statement.

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, which includes expungement provisions in addition to de-scheduling cannabis federally, passed the House Judiciary Committee in September but has not been taken up by the whole chamber. The bill did pass the House last year but was not considered by the Senate.

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