Advocates from the ACLU of New Jersey and New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, along with other partners in efforts to legalize marijuana, testified in Trenton today with a message: for marijuana legalization to advance racial and social justice, automatic expungement must be passed simultaneously with any legislation ending marijuana prohibition in New Jersey.
“Automatic expungement has to be an inextricable, central part of any legalization proposal the Legislature considers. Forcing people to bear the consequences of a criminal conviction for an offense that’s no longer considered a crime simply prolongs the injustices of the failed, discriminatory drug war,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha, who testified before the Assembly Judiciary Committee. “To place the burden of clearing the stain of an unjust law on the people who have suffered from it unnecessarily already while others reap economic benefits contradicts the principles of equity, fairness, and justice that make legalization such an urgent racial and social justice priority to begin with.”
Gathered to testify at a hearing convened by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, who has introduced a bill that would expedite expungement, advocates spoke in support of making the expungement process automatic for anyone convicted of a now-legal marijuana offense. In addition to the ACLU-NJ, several steering committee members of NJUMR took to the dais in support of automatic expungement, including Safeer Quraishi of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference and JH Barr of the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association.