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Washington Senate Approves Cannabis Expungement Bill

The Washington state Senate has passed a wide-reaching expungement bill that would vacate cannabis convictions for tens of thousands in the state.

Full story after the jump.

The Washington state Senate has successfully passed legislation that, if signed into law, would vacate tens of thousands of prior cannabis convictions, according to an Inlander report.

The state Senate voted 29-19 in favor of the bill, which was introduced by state Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center).

“This is something that has been legalized by the vote of the people and would not be criminalized right now. As we know convictions create an extreme hardship for folks, whether it’s housing or educational opportunities.” — State Sen. Joe Nguyen, via Inlander

More than 40,000 people in Washington are expected to qualify for expungement under the bill.

Previously, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) had promised to pardon individuals with minor cannabis possession charges on their record. However, under the rules stipulated by Gov. Inslee, it was estimated that only 3,500 people would qualify for expungement, an order of magnitude lower than those who qualify under the new bill. Inslee’s pardon promises included several stipulations that greatly limited those who would benefit.

Two amendments to the new expungement bill that would’ve limited who qualified to have their criminal records sealed — such as one clause preventing those with more than 2 prior convictions from qualifying and another setting a one-year timer on filing for expungement — were voted down.

The bill now must pass the Washington state House of Representatives before appearing on Gov. Inslee’s desk.

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