Legislation signed on Monday by Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, seeks to expunge low-level marijuana convictions.
Whitmer said at a signing ceremony held for the criminal justice reform package that the new law will offer people second chances. She added that a clean slate would eliminate long-term repercussions that come with having a criminal record. She also approved additional bills to aid the record-clearing process for a wide range of convictions.
Michigan fully legalized marijuana in 2018, allowing adults aged 21 years and above to purchase, possess, and consume the drug. The voted policy enables individuals to grow no more than 12 plants for personal consumption with a maximum possession amount of 10 ounces per residence.
Once implemented, the bill specific to cannabis will allow misdemeanor convicts to apply for the expungement of records as the activity is not considered illegal anymore. The legislation assumes that had the offense been committed on or after the December 6 vote, it would not have been a crime as marijuana legalization had already taken effect.
Whitmer is set to sign a more comprehensive expungement bill that will create an automated record clearing process. The automation structure set to be in full swing in a couple of years will expunge records of misdemeanor convictions after seven years and felonies after ten.
The governor said that during her gubernatorial campaign in 2018, she made the expungement of marijuana convictions one of her top priorities. She added that criminal charges have restricted employment opportunities, housing, and other basic amenities for a long time, causing hundreds of thousands of residents to suffer.
With the approval of all six of the criminal justice reform bills last month, the complete package is expected to impact hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents.
According to the governor, the legislation presents an opportunity for growth in the state workforce, and she intends to increase access to job training.