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Rhode Island Bills Would Expunge Some Previous Marijuana Convictions

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Representative Jason Knight introduced H7091, which is legislation that would expunge previous marijuana convictions in some circumstances. This legislation would allow felony possession convictions of more than just marijuana to be sealed. Records would automatically be expunged 5 years after a sentence is complete and waive the $100 expungement fee.

Representative Anastasia Williams has also introduced legislation to expunge previous marijuana convictions, The Herald News reported. H7142 would allow records to be expunged regardless of what an offenders criminal history is. Those records would automatically be expunged.

Knight said, “The reason why I put it in is because I think we have changing attitudes around controlled substances. No one I know believes that it is a moral failing to get charged with possession of a controlled substance.”

Williams said, “Marijuana, medical or not, is a booming industry, and individuals are going to capitalize more on it soon with the additional six [medical marijuana dispensary] licenses. And just imagine when recreational marijuana becomes legal. So just think for a minute about the individuals who are still incarcerated [or who] have spent time in jail for possession, selling, using, carrying marijuana. …Their sentence doesn’t end when they are released.”

Lawmakers are seeing the difficulties that those that have been convicted of marijuana possession are dealing with due to having a drug charge on their records. It’s a charge that just doesn’t go away. William Cotton has had a marijuana possession conviction on his record since the 1980s.

It’s unknown when these bills will be voted on or advanced.