Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) announced plans to introduce legislation reinforcing steps taken by Oregon to legalize and provide a clean start for certain marijuana offenses. The Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015, creates a pathway for the following two groups of federal marijuana offenders to expunge their marijuana offense: those who were federally charged for activity that was state legal at the time; and those whose offense was the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.
“The penalties of failed prohibition policies should stop ruining people’s lives. The Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015 follows Oregon’s lead to provide a pathway for expunging certain federal marijuana crimes,” said Representative Blumenauer. “People who were caught up in the federal criminal justice system for a marijuana offense that was legal under state law at the time should not carry around a drug record. I support legalizing marijuana at the federal level to put a stop to any state-federal conflicts once and for all, but it is also important that we create pathways for expungement for those who should never have been charged in the first place.”
Since 1996, twenty-three states, the District of Columbia and Guam have passed medical marijuana laws. Additionally, four states – including Oregon – have legalized the adult use of marijuana. Those who moved forward with manufacturing and distributing marijuana in accordance with those laws have too often been caught up in the federal criminal justice system. While the current policy of the Obama Administration is to not prosecute individuals complying with state law and federal enforcement priorities, this was not always the case and may not always be the case going forward. The Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015 creates a path for expungement for any individual with a federal criminal record associated with a marijuana offense that was legal under their state at the time.
This legislation also creates a pathway for expungement for anyone who has a federal record associated with possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. While the number of people who meet this category is low, due to the fact that most small marijuana offenses are charged at the local level, this legislation sends a strong signal to state and local jurisdictions that allowing opportunities for expungement for certain marijuana offenders should happen at all levels of law enforcement.
The Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015 is to be introduced Tuesday.