Not Every Marijuana Offense Cannot Be Pardoned As Reform Progresses

A judge's gavel.

Erasing the rap sheets of individuals found guilty of committing marijuana crimes over the years, has been among the trendiest topics around the recent marijuana discussion. Illinois started the trend when the state included expungement in its plan on ending cannabis prohibition throughout the state two years ago. For the uninitiated, expungement is a legal term that means erasing a criminal conviction record. In this case, it is associated with the trade/possession of marijuana, cannabis or pot.

Now, local jurisdictions and other US states are also considering that expungement. Letting those individuals who have experienced hardships due to marijuana convictions start their lives again with a clean state, is the objective on the whole. The pot community is also excited regarding the things that may happen due to it. The lone issue is that not all who have been guilty of the crimes would escape punishment.

According to some people, eliminating the records of the lawbreakers with their criminal history perhaps seems slightly unfair. After all, governments would not do it to make sure of forgiving almost every crime. Anyhow, those people perhaps do not understand the extent of unfairness related to the crime, and the consequential damaging effects of it. Numerous individuals have been incarcerated in Illinois and federal prisons for marijuana over the past decades. What worsens the situation is the fact that almost all of those prisoners were not violent offenders.

Imprisonment may not be the upshot for most people arrested for marijuana-related crimes nowadays, but numerous people are obstructed in the system of law enforcement. As per the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s data, more than 600,000 arrests happen yearly, the majority of which due to small-time marijuana possession.

Many of those individuals end up having a criminal record during their young days. That would cause them trouble in the event of applying for college, employment, housing, and other desired parts of the so-called American dream. The reason why several legislators make a strong effort to clear the records is that cannabis offenders tend to be regarded as pariahs amid civil society. Those legislators wish to meet their old promises regarding the war on drugs-related policies whose enforcement should not have happened, to begin with. That entails eliminating cannabis offenses to allow those individuals to continue their lives.

San Francisco and Los Angeles have expunged numerous marijuana convictions after California legalized cannabis some years before. Illinois, too, erased some marijuana convictions in the recent past. Even someone who opposed marijuana’s legalization, such as Donald Trump, is known for pardoning people involved in offenses related to federal cannabis legislation.

Crystal Munoz was among the individuals who Trump pardoned during his presidential term. For your information, Munoz was imprisoned for 12 years for the part she played in a cannabis distribution ring. As per the White House’s statement, Trump pardoned Munoz since she has volunteered with an American hospice program, mentored individuals working to improve their lives, and shown great commitment to rehab.

Now, what does the process of erasing a marijuana-related criminal conviction do? After one’s expungement, they could say that there is no criminal record in their name any longer. The law would not require that person to include their offense in things such as their application for housing or employment. The expungement kind of means that their crime did not occur.

Many other jurisdictions consider this small reform a case of acting in good faith. Marijuana is mostly not legal in the state of Missouri even today. Anyhow, the Mayor of Kansas City, namely Quinton Lucas, disclosed his choice to abolish marijuana convictions in the previous year. Lucas said that the convicts might have committed a mistake sometime before, but the law would be fairly applied in not only Kansas City but also Missouri.

Maryland is contemplating a law that would mandate the erasement of all police and court records about solely marijuana-related possession charges by October 01, 2022. That law was not part of another measure looking to stop treating minor cannabis possession as a criminal offense throughout the state.

All the expungement-related policies differ as per the US state or nation, but they all leave trivial marijuana offenses unpunished. The process of sealing the conviction records is just for the people found guilty of committing low-level cannabis crimes. Take the crime of possessing one ounce of pot, for example.

Anyhow, the offenders without any prospect of getting their records expunged are the ones with offenses involved in gun or violence charges. Almost every expungement, irrespective of where it happens in the country, is performed considering it as a separate incident with its own features and circumstances. Anyhow, no law enforcement official has come to an agreement about more serious crime-related marijuana offenses. That is unlikely to change in the near future.