I’ve got to imagine nearly a million people in this region essentially locked out of labor market flexibility, now being able to seek out new/better jobs, etc – will have a significant benefit on local market economics and poverty rate. Thoughts?
NY & NJ Will Erase Nearly A Million Marijuana Convictions. For Some, Clearing Their Record Gets Tricky
Leon Sarvis was in college in 2008, hoping to become a gym teacher, when he said he was convicted in a New Jersey court on charges of marijuana possession and drug distribution for having a scale. Sentenced to two years of probation, he said he was fired from his job working with the disabled. And he gave up on the bachelor’s degree because he knew it wouldn’t help him get a job due to his criminal record.
“That obviously messed everything up,” Sarvis said. “So I had to change focus elsewhere. I drive trucks now—that’s a big field for a lot of people who have convictions.”
Until recently, marijuana convictions in New Jersey and New York posed barriers to jobs, education, even custody of children, particularly for Black residents, who’ve faced disproportionate police enforcement in the war on drugs. But since both states passed legislation legalizing the use of cannabis earlier this year, those convicted on marijuana charges now have an opportunity to wipe their records clean.
In New York, which legalized cannabis in September, 198,000 records have already been expunged and another 203,000 convictions are in the process of being expunged and no longer show up in background checks, according to state data.
“When completed, the actions of these measures will have expunged the records of over 400,000 New Yorkers, a staggering reminder of the impact that cannabis prohibition had on so many,” Alexander said.
In New Jersey, which legalized the drug in February, the state Supreme Court’s automated system has expunged, dismissed, or vacated 362,000 marijuana and hashish cases, including possession of marijuana and hashish, and distribution of less than an ounce of marijuana or five grams of hashish. Convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia and being under the influence of a controlled substance are also being removed from records if the cases are linked to marijuana offenses. And at least 1,200 people in the state have been released from probation.
In total, more than 750,000 marijuana convictions are being expunged in both states, wiped out as if the arrests never happened. But some charges may be more complicated to untangle. In New Jersey, for example, if someone faced a marijuana offense along with a non-drug charge, such as assault, the entirety of their criminal record will still be intact, requiring judicial review before such cases can be removed.