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Motions filed to expunge more than 4,000 cannabis convictions in Cleveland

Apr 22, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

If granted, the motions would eliminate 4,077 misdemeanour cannabis charges related to possession of 20 grams or less.

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Officials with the city of Cleveland have filed motions to expunge more than 4,000 convictions for cannabis possession that date back to 2017.

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If granted, the motions would eliminate 4,077 misdemeanour cannabis charges related to possession of 20 grams or less, reports Cleveland.com.

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Adult-use cannabis remains prohibited in Ohio, but that hasn’t deterred local decriminalization efforts.

In 2020, Cleveland City Council passed legislation eliminating local penalties for possessing up to 200 grams of cannabis. The legislation also ensured that individuals convicted on low-level cannabis charges would not have a criminal record, nor would they need to disclose any charges on applications for employment or licences.

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In passing that legislation, Cleveland joined more than 20 other local jurisdictions in the state that have removed or significantly lowered penalties related to misdemeanour cannabis charges.

After delivering the paperwork to clerks at Cleveland Municipal Court, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb told local media that it was “a historic day.”

“Today’s event shows our commitment in the city of Cleveland to advancing criminal justice reform,” Bibb said, per Cleveland.com. “But it also gives folks all across the city and across this region a second chance at getting a good job and the quality of life that they deserve,” he said.

In a statement announcing the motion, Bibb said that while Washington has been slow to act on cannabis reform, there are “immediate steps we can take right now in Cleveland to clear the names of over 4,000 residents who deserve a fresh start.”

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“This is just one way we can make progress on criminal justice reform to balance the scales and remove barriers to employment and re-entry,” he added.

The motions will be considered individually and the presiding judges will hold hearings to make final rulings. Prosecutors intend to continue reviewing cannabis charges that pre-date 2017 to identify other individuals who may be eligible for expungement.

“The judges have the right to rule on the motions and we will respect those rights,” assistant chief prosecutor Aqueelah Jordan told Cleveland.com. “Our judges are very busy and we are going to be very supportive of whatever time they need.”

In a statement, Morgan Fox, a Cleveland native and the political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said he was “truly proud” that his hometown is making efforts to repair the harms caused by prohibition.

“As a person who was arrested for cannabis as a young adult, I have seen first-hand how this can limit opportunities and stigmatize people for the rest of their lives, as well as the appalling racial disparities that continue to exist in both enforcement and sentencing,” Fox said.

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