Senate Bill 420 establishes an expedited expungement process to erase marijuana records, including a simpler process, waiver of court filing fees, and the elimination of the need for a criminal background check. Senate Bill 975 creates an expedited path for reducing the level of a prior marijuana conviction to the level that the offense would be today.
Forcing people to bear the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction for an offense that’s no longer considered a crime simply prolongs the injustices of the failed, discriminatory drug war. For marijuana legalization to truly advance racial and social justice, criminal records for behavior that is now legal must be swiftly cleared. Unfortunately, this has yet to happen in the State of Oregon.
Expungement currently requires navigating complex legal bureaucracies, paying court fees and background check fees that amount to hundreds of dollars, and often hiring legal counsel, which costs much more. We know that the process of expungement is expensive and complex, and we know that people who are eligible often don’t apply because of the barriers involved.
To begin repairing the harms of prohibition, we must remove barriers to clearing the records of the people who have been most affected it.