The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law created a toolkit to handle cannabis-related criminal convictions, including instructions for expungement processes, and other legal routes. The toolkit is designed for both lawyers and advocates to find out what options they have depending on their state laws.
The toolkit helps lawyers and advocates to determine whether their respective states allow for the expungement, sealing or vacating of records. It also provides tools advocates can use to change the law itself locally through grassroots efforts.
The St. Louis American reports that the toolkit additionally provides an overview of three main approaches states can use to begin to repair the social, political and economic consequences of cannabis-related criminal records.
“Over the past few years, significant progress has been made to address the expungement of certain cannabis-related convictions. States like Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, and Washington, among others, have voted to authorize record relief for cannabis offenses. New Jersey, Illinois, and New York have authorized automatic processes,” the Lawyers’ Committee told The St. Louis American.
Some of the people who need the toolkit the most come from disadvantaged communities hit harder by the War on Drugs.
“Although marijuana has become decriminalized in a number of states, Black Americans still cannot acquire the benefits of post-conviction relief,” said Tianna Mays, an attorney with the Criminal Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“Those who have been previously convicted of cannabis-related crimes struggle to get jobs, find housing, and become licensed for professional vocations,” Mays added. “With expungement becoming more accessible, we must ensure that Black Americans receive their fair share of conviction relief. The fight for racial justice and equality needs the support of attorneys and advocates.”
The toolkit, called “The Expungement Now: A Post-Conviction Toolkit for Attorneys and Advocates,” provides communications tools, sample tweets, and tips for writing op-eds on cannabis reform. It provides sample tweets with information on making them more effective in pushing for cannabis reform.