Legislative progress on cannabis reform

medical marijuana legalization

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about the Clean Slate Act and the Fresh Start Act lately. And for good reason! These are two important bills that will help people with marijuana convictions erase their criminal records. This is important because it allows them to move on with their lives and not be burdened by a criminal record.

The Senate needs to pass these bills in order to help people who have been unfairly targeted by marijuana prohibition.

What do they do?

The Clean Slate Act automatically seals many non-violent federal marijuana convictions and creates penalties for anyone improperly sharing information about individuals’ sealed convictions. The Fresh Start Act provides tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to help states facilitate the automatic expungement of convictions for marijuana violations, among other offenses.

What is the need for this kind of legislation?

Many people with marijuana convictions continue to face discrimination regarding employment, housing, banking, education, healthcare, child custody, security clearances, and a host of other areas.

What can the Senate do to pass these bills and other substantive legislation?

The Senate can pass these bills by voting on them and passing them into law. The Senate can also pass other substantive legislation related to cannabis reform, such as the MORE Act, which would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. However, it is unclear if the Senate will take action on these bills before the end of the year. With the holidays approaching and a presidential election on the horizon, the Senate may not have time to vote on these bills. Even if the Senate does not pass these bills into law, they can still have a significant impact on the national conversation surrounding cannabis reform.

How will this impact marginalized and unfairly targeted communities?

The legislation will help to alleviate some of the collateral consequences associated with marijuana convictions, which can have a lifelong impact on an individual’s ability to function and thrive in society. This is especially important for marginalized and unfairly targeted communities who have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and help to reduce the disparities in the criminal justice system.

It is encouraging to see that lawmakers are taking steps to address the lifelong collateral consequences associated with marijuana convictions. The Clean Slate Act and the Fresh Start Act will help alleviate some of the negative impacts that can come from a simple pot conviction. These bills passed in a bipartisan manner, show that there is growing consensus around cannabis reform. It’s important that we continue to push for change so that everyone can benefit from this progress.


House Judiciary Committee Approves Measures to Help Seal and Expunge Marijuana Arrests – NORML. (2022, September 22). NORML.

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