New congressional bill pressures states to expunge drug convictions

Marijuana.com

Just two weeks into his short term in the House, a congressman who stepped in to fill the seat of the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has filed a bill to expunge all federal records for people with non-violent drug convictions and also put pressure on state and local governments to do the same. Rep. Kwanza Hall (D-GA), a former Atlanta City Councilman who successfully sponsored a local marijuana decriminalization measure in 2017, introduced the legislation on Wednesday. Text of the bill isn’t available yet, but the congressman briefly described the proposal in a floor speech. He said the bill “would expunge all records of nonviolent offenders impacted by the ‘war on drugs’ and other various crime bills for any state and local government that is the recipient of federal crime dollars.” That latter provision is notable, as expungements legislation that’s been introduced in Congress generally only extends to people with federal drug convictions or provides funds to states to help with any such efforts they choose to launch. Hall’s legislation would take it a step further, presumably by punishing state and local governments that don’t clear past drug conviction records by withholding federal funds from those jurisdictions. But with about a month left before the end of the session, at which point Hall’s short term will expire, it’s unlikely the bill will advance. In any case, this isn’t Hall’s first dip into drug policy reform. As noted, he previously sponsored an Atlanta ordinance that removed the threat of jail time for possession of one ounce or less of cannabis. Instead, the penalty for that offense in Atlanta was made to be a maximum $75 fine. We’re sending a strong directive to our police department. Marijuana possession of less than an ounce is a non-jailable offense in ATL. pic.twitter.com/DihMViOLHY— Kwanza Hall (@kwanzahall) October 3, 2017https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js “While…

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