Ohio Marijuana Convicts Could Have Their Records Purged

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Ohioans with marijuana convictions could have their records purged if the campaign group pushing for marijuana legalization gets its way.

ResponsibleOhio is pushing the move and is also the main campaign group backing a proposed constitutional amendment — Issue 3 — that would legalize both recreational and medical marijuana in the state, reported the Dayton Daily News.

The ballot initiative would permit Ohioans to grow small amounts of marijuana in their homes, while commercial growing would be limited to 10 sites. The vote will be held Nov. 3rd.

ResponsibleOhio claims to have collected 236,759 signatures in support of the Fresh Start Act, which would allow people with convictions made legal by Issue 3 to file a petition to the courts to expunge their criminal records.

The act would give some people “a second chance,” ResponsibleOhio’s executive director, Ian James, told the Dayton Daily News. “This allows people that have been convicted of offenses that are no longer illegal an ability to move forward, an ability to get expungement and sentencing review,” he said.

The Fresh Start Act would go before the Ohio Assembly in January 2016, and lawmakers would have four months to pass the bill. If the proposal is thrown out, however, or the wording is changed, another 92,000 signatures would need to be collected before the reform could be put to the voters.

The Fresh Start Act would not apply to federal marijuana offenses or offenses that would remain illegal under Issue 3. It has received strong support from pastors and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.

“We fully support this, and we fully support giving people further opportunities to rehabilitate themselves and get out from underneath the thumb of oppressive laws and policies that … affect their employment, affect their housing, affect their education,” Gary Daniels, attorney and chief lobbyist for the Ohio ACLU, said in a press conference reported by The Alliance Review.

The United Food and Commercial Workers have also been active in organizing industry workers to support Issue 3. (RELATED: Union Sets Its Sights On Ohio Marijuana Growers)

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Guy Bentley