New law sets the stage for automatic expungement
On Monday, in addition to referring legalization to voters, the New Jersey Legislature passed a reworked bill to expunge or seal thousands of past convictions, including marijuana charges. Just two days later, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill into law.
This new law removes a scarlet letter that has derailed countless lives. Marijuana convictions can make it difficult to get housing, jobs, professional licensing, and to further one’s education. With 62% of New Jersey voters supporting legalization, it is particularly nonsensical to haunt individuals for life for using cannabis.
S.4151 includes several improvements Gov. Murphy requested when he conditionally vetoed a prior version, along with a few tweaks from the legislature.
Among other changes, the new law will:
- Require the courts to implement an automatic sealing process for most marijuana offenses;
- Set up a task force to make recommendations on the automatic sealing process;
- Allow individuals who have completed their sentences for lower-level marijuana offenses to apply for and be granted expungement while awaiting automatic sealing;
- Remove fees for expungement; and
- Allocate $15 million for implementation.
For more details, check out this article.
This is an important step forward to improving New Jersey’s marijuana policies. But, more action is needed to bring justice to the Garden State’s marijuana laws. New Jersey can save 30,000 individuals the trauma of arrests between now and Election Day by decriminalizing marijuana in the lame duck session. Let lawmakers know you want them to stop the arrests.
Thank you for raising your voice for sensible, humane marijuana policies!
For decades, marijuana prohibition destroyed lives and harmed communities in Michigan. Fortunately, voters said enough is enough and passed Prop 1 last year. As the state now moves forward with implementing a legal marijuana market, we must take steps to undo past injustices and support those who have been most impacted by punitive marijuana laws.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has publicly called for prior low-level marijuana offenses to be erased from individuals' criminal records. And now, state Sen. Jeff Irwin is sponsoring legislation, SB 263, to automatically expunge prior marijuana use and possession convictions, which could affect nearly 250,000 residents in the state.
In a related update, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency recently released rules to implement Prop 1's social equity provisions. Residents of the 19 cities in which marijuana arrests rates were disproportionately higher than the rest of the state will be eligible for technical assistance, fee reductions, and educational resources to help them get a leg up in obtaining a marijuana business license. You can find a list of the cities and more details about the new regulations here.
As Michigan finds itself in an exciting new era of legalization, we cannot leave behind those who have suffered as a result of prohibition. It is encouraging to see policymakers taking steps to address these issues, and we will continue monitoring the state's progress.
Last week, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency issued emergency rules signed by Gov. Whitmer to guide the process of establishing a legal cannabis market for adults in Michigan.
The new regulations include several forward-thinking provisions, including the creation of licenses for on-site cannabis consumption areas and temporary events, so long as they are permitted by the local town or city government. The guidelines also address how the agency will work to promote participation in the cannabis industry by communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition. You can read a summary of the emergency rules here. Head regulators have announced their intention to begin accepting applications for marijuana business licenses by November, and sales are expected to start early next year.
MPP was the driving force behind passage of Proposal 1 — the 2018 ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in Michigan. We are excited to see implementation moving forward, and we are proud of the progress that is being made. The voters agreed with us that prohibition must be dismantled, and now, we are watching that happen!
We are grateful to all of you who have steadfastly supported our marijuana reform efforts over the years. The hard work is paying off. Let's remain engaged and ensure that the implementation process in Michigan continues to follow the spirit and letter of the law.
As the state’s medical marijuana program undergoes significant changes and regulators take steps to implement the voter-approved adult-use legalization initiative, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency is asking the public the weigh in.
The newly formed agency will hold its first meeting on Thursday, June 13 at 9:30 a.m. in the Williams Building, located at 525 W. Ottawa Street in Lansing. If you are unable to attend the hearing in person, the event will be livestreamed on the state’s Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Facebook page. The public is also encouraged to email comments to MRA-Legal@michigan.gov.
Passage of Prop 1, which legalized marijuana for adult use last year, was a huge step forward in establishing more sensible marijuana policies in the state, but smooth and fair implementation of the law is also critical. If you have concerns or opinions about the future of marijuana in Michigan, please get involved and share your views with the agency.
The Maine MLI Committee has been back to work over the last two months on the latest iteration of their omnibus bill to establish regulations for the adult-use marijuana market. Unfortunately, most of the changes have been politically oriented to garner support from House Republicans. Changes that concern us the most are the removal of social clubs from the bill and reducing the number of flowering marijuana plants an adult can grow, from six to three per adult.
We are still waiting on the final language of the bill, which may be a week or two. Once the final bill is released, we will be sure to send it to you.
Across the hall, in the Health and Human Services Committee, some structural reforms are being considered. For the first time, in a long time, stakeholders are working together with the committee to make the medical program better for patients and the industry. We will keep you abreast of these changes as they occur.
In the meantime, we are meeting with Republican, Democratic, and Independent candidates for governor. Not only do these meetings allow us to ask the candidates where they stand on marijuana policy, but also, they allow us to be a resource and answer questions they may have. We are frustrated and disappointed that adults in Maine will not have a legal way to purchase marijuana this year and hope the next governor will make implementation a top priority.