Thousands of Michiganders could get a second chance if voters legalize recreational cannabis this coming November 6th.
State Rep. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) introduced a bill that would make it easy for people with pot convictions to get their records expunged.
“I hope we will listen to the will of the people. If the November vote is loud and clear, we should take a good look at it and balance the playing field on the usage of marijuana in the state of Michigan,” said Neely. “We definitely don’t want people to have a criminal record for a nonviolent crime that is now legal if it passes in November.”
Neely’s bill would only deal with misdemeanor convictions, such as use or possession of small amounts of weed as well as some growing violations.
But under the legislation, judges “shall grant” requests for expungement of criminal convictions if the proposal passes in November and the convictions are no longer considered a crime under the legalization.
In the past five years, 117,123 Michigan residents have been arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana offenses and 49,928 of them have been convicted, reported the Detroit Free Press citing statistics compiled by Michigan State Police.
Altogether, 3,670 people are either in prison, jail or on probation for felony marijuana convictions, according to the Michigan Department of Correction’s 2016 inmate population report. Some of those convictions are for high-level trafficking, but the majority are for simple possession or use.
Nationally, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 8.2 million people were arrested for marijuana offenses between 2001 and 2010. African-Americans continue to be three times more likely to get arrested for marijuana crimes as whites, per the
ACLU, even though blacks and whites consume cannabis at the same rates.