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A Historic Move in Cleveland: Thousands to Benefit from Cannabis Expungements

Cleveland's mayor announced on April 4 that the city has big plans to expunge thousands of marijuana-related records. After a state law gave them the power to grant mass relief, officials in Cleveland are taking action to ensure that past cannabis convictions no longer hold people back. This move is part of a growing trend across the United States as lawmakers work to rectify the harm caused by outdated drug policies.

Mayor Justin Bibb (D) announced the exciting news to Cleveland citizens, stating that the recently signed SB 288 by Governor Mike DeWine (R) will open the door for the city to continue facilitating thousands of cannabis expungements. This is a major push towards criminal justice reform, as nearly 4,000 citizens will have the opportunity to clear their records and move forward without the hindrance of past convictions. Bibb praised the new legislation as a step towards a more equitable society and hopes that other cities will follow Cleveland's lead in prioritizing the rights and futures of its citizens

The previously passed state bill by Senator Nathan Manning (R) addresses numerous areas for reform, such as sentencing adjustments for incarcerated individuals and expanded options for sealing and expunging criminal records. However, Bibb is taking a closer look at the measures that permit cities to expunge specific drug-related offenses, particularly possession of marijuana that is less than 200 grams. With this allowance, Bibb hopes to move forward with clearing the records of those who have been affected by these convictions.

The mayor sought mass marijuana clemency last year. Unfortunately, his efforts were thwarted by state officials who informed him that local governments lacked such authority. Determined to find a solution, he teamed up with Manning to create legislation that would extend the power to expunge criminal records for such offenses.

Great news for those with prior convictions! County prosecutors and city law directors in Ohio can now apply for expungements. The city will be taking additional steps to ensure those eligible are aware of the opportunity, including sending out notices by mail and filing motions on their behalf with the courts.

Following a recent reform in Ohio, citizens with minor drug conviction records may have a chance to get them sealed through expungement clinics. The US Conference of Mayors provided funding earlier this year for the clinics. However, this initiative is not limited to Cleveland alone. The new law allows county prosecutors and city law directors throughout Ohio to apply for expungements for fourth-degree or minor misdemeanor drug convictions on behalf of citizens.

The legislation aims to reduce the stigma and consequences associated with misdemeanor cannabis paraphernalia possession also. As a result, these cases will no longer be considered a criminal offense, and individuals will not be required to disclose them when asked about their criminal record.

The recent legislation in Ohio is a major victory for those with prior convictions as it provides them the opportunity to expunge their records and move forward without being hindered by outdated drug policies. This encourages criminal justice reform and promotes an equitable society, while also giving citizens more options when they are asked about their past criminal activity. It's clear that Cleveland has taken a pioneering step towards this kind of progress, but other cities throughout the state can follow suit and offer similar solutions so everyone who deserves relief from these laws can benefit from them.

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