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For many people—especially those in black and brown communities hit hard by the “war on drugs” of past decades—old arrests and convictions for minor amounts of pot are still haunting them whenever they fill out a job application or apply for an apartment.
“Millions and millions of individuals have been arrested and have these records following them for the rest of their lives,” says Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
The governor of New Jersey signed a bill into law establishing a streamlined process for expunging criminal records resulting from low-level marijuana violations, as well as other nonviolent offenses.
An expungement bill that was originally tied to two other marijuana bills — a since-passed medical marijuana expansion bill and a now-dead legalization bill — continues to languish despite top lawmakers from all three of the state’s top Democrats.
Now that legislative leaders have given up the push to legalize under the golden dome, the expungement bill has been thrust into something of a twilight zone.
Likewise, Murphy promised he would continue lobbying lawmakers to approve recreational marijuana and make it easier for people previously convicted of marijuana possession and other low-level, non-violent crimes have an easy route for expungement.
Relief for those with minor marijuana convictions in New Jersey could be inching closer, as the state Senate is scheduled to vote Thursday on changes Gov. Phil Murphy made a bill that would allow people to have their records expunged.
But it’s not clear if the Senate is ready to concur with the governor’s proposals.
Gov. Phil Murphy has vetoed a bill that would clear the records of thousands of people convicted of marijuana offenses, but he's offered an alternative plan.
Murphy conditionally vetoed Senate Bill No. 3205 this week, rejecting a plan to institute several major reforms to the state's expungement law and allow individuals convicted of certain marijuana offenses to petition a court to remove them from their criminal records.
Anyone with a New Jersey cannabis conviction could be in for good news if state lawmakers decide to enact criminal justice reforms suggested by Gov. Phil Murphy.
Murphy, a Democrat, late last week vetoed parts of Senate Bill 3205, which would have cleared a path to expungement of certain non-violent criminal cannabis charges. He argued the measure didn’t go far enough.
A nonprofit with the technology to analyze criminal records nearly automatically will help the county that includes Chicago clear tens of thousands of convictions for marijuana possession as Illinois gets set to allow the recreational sale of the drug.
Code for America will provide a digital system to tackle the task at no taxpayer cost and in a fraction of the time it would take bureaucrats to slog through decades of cannabis arrests and convictions, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx said at a news conference in Chicago on Tuesday.
In response, Cunningham said in a statement that she was “disappointed” in the decision, and that the “proposed changes would significantly lessen the number of individuals who would be eligible for expungement.”
“If expungement is a good step toward responsible citizenship, then we should be broadening the opportunity for people to expunge their records and to rejoin the work force. There has to come a time when we understand the importance of permitting people to have a second chance.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has vetoed legislation that would have expedited expungements for people with certain cannabis-related offenses on their record. On Friday, Murphy announced that he had shot down the plan because it did not go far enough, and offered suggestions to lawmakers on how they could craft expungement legislation that was more likely to get past his desk.