Cleveland, Ohio Officials Seek to Expunge 4,000+ Cannabis Convictions

Cleveland, Ohio officials have filed motions to expunge over 4,000 cannabis-related criminal convictions dating back to 2017.

Full story after the jump.

Cleveland, Ohio officials earlier this month filed motions to expunge 4,077 cannabis-related criminal convictions. The effort is backed by Mayor Justin M. Bibb, Chief Prosecutor Aqueelah Jordan, and City Council President Blaine Griffin and aims to expunge the records dating back to 2017.

“Today, we are moving forward with clearing the names of over 4,000 residents who deserve a fresh start. This is just one way we can make progress on criminal justice reform to balance the scales and remove barriers to employment and re-entry.” – Bibb in a press release

In 2020, the Cleveland City Council passed legislation to reduce the penalties for misdemeanor cannabis possession cases to no fines or prison time. The measure also ensured those convicted would not have a criminal record and that they would not need to report the charge on applications for employment or licenses.

Griffin said the motion “is the natural progression” of what the council wanted to accomplish by passing the bill.

“…First to decriminalize, then to have records expunged,” Griffin said in a statement. “Before we passed the legislation, we put together a working group with activists and criminal justice experts. As more and more states legalized marijuana, we wanted to position the city in that direction. For me, this has always been about criminal justice reform.”

The Prosecutor’s Office indicated it had identified 455 individuals who had been mistakenly charged since the passage of the ordinance. The motions move next to judges in Cleveland Municipal Court and will take effect once they are approved by a judge.

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