Lawmakers on Friday considered whether adults will be able to have misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession thrown out if they were over 21 at the time of the offense.
The House's Public Safety
Committee began weighing a bill by Democratic legislators that would
allow misdemeanor convictions for possessing 40 grams or less of
marijuana to be set aside and dismissed. If it passes, the process to
clear records would be different from the way other misdemeanors are
expunged. Unlike those cases, a marijuana offender wouldn't have to wait
three years after completing the sentence to get the conviction wiped
off the record.
The bill would erase past criminal convictions
for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Voters passed Initiative
502 in 2012, which legalized the sale and recreational use of pot in
"The voters spoke," Thurston County public
defender Alex Frix told the panel Friday. "It is patently unfair to
continue to punish people with the stain of a conviction for possessing a
now-legal substance, period."
The committee had no questions for
Frix, who was the only speaker on the bill. An identical bill
introduced in 2013 never made it to the House floor for a vote.
the same hearing, another bill by Democratic legislators to lessen the
penalty for possession of small amounts of all drugs and make possession
charges misdemeanors also received some discussion, but even one of
that bill's sponsors took a pessimistic view of its chances.
"We probably won't get it through this year," said Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo. "You know, we're planting the seeds."
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