Do you have a cannabis conviction on your record that’s still haunting you to this day? Does it frustrate the hell out of you that as you struggle to find housing, loans, credit, or even employment with a non-violent criminal record, others are making millions from doing the same thing you got busted for?
National Expungement Week, a nationwide awareness and activism event, was designed to remedy this gross, glaring hypocrisy that’s been staring us in the face ever since Colorado and Washington State first launched legal weed sales in 2014. Events will run from September 21st to 28th in over 30 cities.
What goes on during National Expungement Week? The events host free “clinics” where volunteers and attorneys explain how those living with non-violent drug convictions can get their records sealed or cleared altogether. For those who cannot get their records expunged, National Expungement Week events will also help them get a job in the cannabis industry, where most employers see a prior pot conviction as a badge of honor — not a mark of shame. Events will also educate convicts on how to get their voting rights restored, as most states ban felons from being able to vote.
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"Just because legalization has happened in Colorado doesn’t change the fact that people have been affected by past prohibition,” said Kelsey Barton, a senior recruiter at the cannabis employment agency Vangst, to Westword. “Our goal is to help make sure people who have been negatively impacted by past prohibition be able to have the same opportunities as anyone else.”
According to Forbes, National Expungement Week’s participating cities doubled since its first nationwide event last year, from 16 cities to 30. Some cities hosting National Expungement Week events include Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Detroit, Honolulu, New York, San Francisco, Newark, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.
Although the conflicts between state-legal cannabis and old weed laws are front-and-center at National Expungement Week, the event isn’t limited to just pot offenders. Anyone with a prior drug conviction is invited to attend, with workshops designed to help convicts re-enter society, such as helping them with educational and vocational resources.
“Every community’s events look different. In Boston, our event will feature record clearance and GED services, voter registration, and a City Councilor candidate forum,” said Joe Gilmore, President of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council, in a press release. “In Chicago, educational events will let people know about recent changes in the state’s expungement and cannabis laws. In Washington, DC… events will provide housing and legal assistance, resume workshops, and other re-entry services.”
Are you interested in learning more about National Expungement Week, and whether events are happening close to you? If so, check out National Expungement Week’s official website for details.
Stay safe, play responsibly, and get those records cleared, folks. There’s a lot of green out there now, and everyone deserves a fair shot at making it.
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