Seattle Mayor, Vermont House Committee Explore Marijuana Conviction Erasures

“The war on drugs had devastating impacts on people, especially people of color and their families. People’s lives were ruined for misdemeanor marijuana offenses. This action is a necessary first step in righting the wrongs of the past and putting our progressive values into action,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Thursday.

The Mayor’s Office made an announcement that the City of Seattle will make a motion to vacate misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession in the state.

Since 2012, the state of Washington has allowed marijuana possession and consumption for adults 21 and over. Cannabis has also been considered the lowest priority for police enforcement since the passage of Initiative 75 in 2003.

And Seattle citizens with misdemeanor charges need only qualify for their conviction to be erased. If a person has been convicted of a crime that is currently legal under state law, the city will make a motion on their behalf that, according to the release, “will not require any action by individuals.”

Meanwhile, in Vermont, the state that most recently opted to allow recreational cannabis consumption starting July 1, lawmakers are attempting to get ahead of the matter. Rep. Maxine Grad (D), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, introduced VT H0865 with bipartisan co-sponsors Tom Burditt (R) and Chip Conquest (D) Tuesday.

The bill seeks to expunge and seal the records of anyone “for which the qualifying crime was a misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction pursuant to 18 V.S.A. 4230, 4230a, or 4230b, unless the court finds that expungement would not be in the interest of justice,” among other conditions. See the full bill text here.

Earlier this year, San Diego and San Francisco announced similar plans to examine past cannabis convictions.


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