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June 26, 2018, Vermont
In less than a week’s time, Vermont will legalize recreational cannabis. From July 1, adults 21 and above will be allowed to possess up to one ounce of dried strain. Every residential unit will also be allowed to cultivate up to six marijuana plants. It is interesting to note that instead of establishing a legal retail market of the strain, the state is going to take care of past cannabis-related crime records first.
Among all the states that have legalized adult-use marijuana, Vermont has taken the most proactive approach to expunge cannabis criminal records, and rightly so. There is no logic in persisting with past cannabis-related criminal records when the strain has already become legal.
Clearing out minor criminal convictions is also important because it affects the cohort of all ages. For instance, older citizens with decades-old marijuana criminal records can’t possess a gun in Vermont. Moreover, they face difficulties if they have to cross the border into Canada.
Similarly, younger cannabis offenders with minor charges can’t secure student loans. Neither do they can get respectable jobs. In general, minor cannabis-related criminal record haunt the affected people in all day-to-day dealings.
This is the reason why Vermont has made crossing out criminal records a centerpiece of their marijuana reforms. The expunging of past marijuana convictions will open the gates of opportunity for thousands of Vermont citizens in education, traveling, work, housing etc.
As the proclamation day for adult-use legalization approaches in Vermont, many of its counties have already had ‘expungement days’ in which local administrations have held workshops to offer free assistance to all those people with past criminal records of possessing and consuming marijuana.
During these sessions, many affected attendees have even furnished their petitions to wipe out their cannabis-related criminal records. Residents facing years of persecution due to minor cannabis charges are elated by this facade of legalization. They are happy that they will be able to lead a normal life again after the rectification of the past.
More Expungement Days are yet to Come
More counties will hold their expungement days in coming days. According to one of the state’s attorneys who are looking over the expunging process, there are over 3,000 cannabis misdemeanors eligible to be wiped out of the criminal record.
It is important to note that all cannabis charges classified as a felony under criminal law and convictions for selling pot can’t be expunged. People who want to expunge their names from criminal records must bring their ID and docket number to these sessions where expungement petitions are being processed.
Vermont’s proactive approach to expunge past cannabis-related criminal record demonstrates how important is to address the past while devising a future for cannabis. Having a criminal record in your name for a commodity that has been legalized makes no sense.
California has also legalized adult-use cannabis, but the process of expunging past cannabis convictions is really slow there. To streamline the things, San Francisco is experimenting with an automated system to access all the applications of expunging.