It is no secret that the potential legalization of adult recreational use cannabis has not gone exactly as the current administration had planned. Legalization was to be coupled with expungement provisions that would effectively remove from the record all low-level marijuana/hashish/paraphernalia arrests and convictions.
Senate Bill 3205
Efforts to enact a law clearing certain marijuana convictions stalled on Thursday morning when the state Senate pulled a vote on some of the changes Gov. Phil Murphy wanted to have in the cannabis expungement bill. Lawmakers instead reintroduced the bill yesterday afternoon, which according to Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, contains much of what Murphy wants.
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.
Senate Bill 3205 revises the state’s expungement procedures. Specifically, it expands the pool of crimes eligible for expungement and it establishes an expedited process for those with minor marijuana offenses to petition the court to have their records vacated.
Lawmakers on Monday sent Gov. Phil Murphy a bill setting up an expungement process for low-level cannabis offenses, even without a bill to legalize marijuana and with hesitation to move forward on another proposal to decriminalize cannabis.
The state Senate approved Senate Bill 3205 in a 24-12 vote and the Assembly approved its own version – Assembly Bill 4498 – in a 50-15 vote with six abstentions. The legislation is the only marijuana proposal that made its way to the governor’s desk.
Legislation that would revise procedures and eligibility for the expungement of criminal records, particularly those involving minor marijuana offenses, cleared both the New Jersey Assembly and Senate.
The bill now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk for his signature.
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What will be different about the expungement process if that bill is signed into law?
If signed into law, bill S-3205 would make more crimes eligible for expungement — including offenses involving controlled dangerous substances — and cut down the wait time to three years. It would also establish an expedited expungement process for marijuana-related offenses and create an "e-filing" system for expungement petitions.
A new "clean slate" program would wipe away all offenses at once for anyone who has a clean record for 10 years after their last offense.
Accordingly, plan B, they have said, is to significantly expand the current medical cannabis system and push through a separate bill (S-3205) for expunging the records of individuals with arrests or convictions for low-level marijuana crimes.