Feb 062013
 February 6, 2013

washington misdemeanors cannabis marijuana possessionBy Sensible Washington

Washington State has a golden opportunity to further lead the way on cannabis law reform, and to remedy some of the devastating effects of this failed prohibition.

Announced just a few days ago, House Bill 1661 is a piece of legislation that every reform advocate should have their eyes on – not to mention anyone who has, or knows someone who has, a cannabis possession charge on their record.

House Bill 1661 would explicitly allow individuals charged with a cannabis possession misdemeanor in Washington state to have it removed from their record. This is true whether the plea was guilty, or not guilty.

Not only would this retroactively apply Washington’s new one ounce decrim to those already convicted, it allows charges to be cleared for possession of up to 40 grams, and for those 18 and older – any charge that falls under RCW 69.50.4014.
Now, take in to consideration that over 240,000 people were arrested in Washington state for cannabis possession between 1986-2010, with an additional 10-20,000 since then. Of those convicted, the vast majority would have the ability to remove, or “vacate” the charge from their record, if House Bill 1661 were to pass.

This could make the difference between these people getting a job and a place to live, or constantly being denied both. It would also have a substantial effect on student loans, as many are denied funding based on cannabis convictions, even for simple possession.

The bill certainly faces an upward battle to get passed into law, but it’s off to an excellent start; the measure is being sponsored by 21 legislators, including a couple Republicans.

Now is the time for supporters of this measure – which should be any supporter of sane policy – to make their support known. If you’re a constituent, look up your district’s legislators and urge them to get behind this measure, making sure to contact Governor Inslee as well, who would need to sign the bill for it to become law.

The bill will get a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee within the next couple weeks – making it vital to lobby its members. Beyond contacting elected officials, it’s imperative that we spread the word.

As our country continues to move away from cannabis prohibition, this is the type of policy we should be implementing nation-wide.

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • http://www.facebook.com/bradley.willt Bradley Willt

    This should be a key part of every legalization initiative. Removing not only the penalties and fallout moving forward, but also providing equal treatment to those existing victims of broken policy would truly make a difference in allowing people to contribute to the betterment of society. How was it ever rationalized that as part of the punishment for involvement with this plant at any level, those offenders should have a black star added to their permanent record which destroys chances at being a productive, contributing member of society with opportunity to gain education, training and skills to provide to the progress of the economy and community? It seems logic went completely out the window when these existing policies/laws/penalties were created. How does any heavy-handed approach like exists with current marijuana policy in this country EVER work for the good of the people or get positive results? Even with trillions spent by the government to eradicate this plant from the face of the Earth through disinformation tactics, propaganda, hard-line legal approaches and penalties, pressuring and bullying other countries to take similar stances, and denying doctors and scientists from even doing research, USE HAS STILL INCREASED! Prohibition only ruins lives, and prohibition of something that should never have been prohibited in the first place incites anarchist behavior and defiance. It’s good to see change on the horizon and the reason and intellect we supposedly have as top-echelon beings actually being exercised.