Saying he wants to allow people to “move on with their lives,” Jeff Irwin, a Michigan state senator from Ann Arbor, has introduced a bill that would allow the state to expunge the arrest records of state residents on misdemeanor marijuana use and possession charges.
The measure continues a trend that is spreading across the country in which social justice has become a component of marijuana legalization. Most recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that decriminalizes marijuana possession in that state and wipes certain convictions from a person's criminal record.
If passed, the Michigan bill would automatically clear criminal records for more than 235,000 Michigan residents without requiring them to contact the court system. That’s an important facet of the measure, as few people seek expungement of criminal records even when they are eligible because the process is expensive, long and uncertain.
In a statement, Senator Irwin said automatic expungement is also important because “many people can’t afford an attorney or the legal fees associated with an application. Cannabis is now legal in Michigan and petty offenses in the past should be no barrier to getting back to work or school.”