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!