At long last, marijuana could help your criminal record

The nationwide cannabis debate continues over legalization. And while marijuana remains illegal under federal law, Illinois is the 11th state to legalize the substance for recreational use.

It seems the general consensus is that people should be punished for committing violent crimes. However, you might agree that having a small amount of marijuana may not merit a criminal record. Thanks to recently-passed legislation in Illinois, roughly 800,000 people may now be able to expunge those records.

How could new laws help you move forward from previous convictions?

Historically, charges for the possession of marijuana have resulted in jail time. And for those who could not afford to pay fines, the penalties may have resulted in more serious financial trouble.

Lawmakers supporting the legalization of marijuana throughout the state believe it is time to repair the damage the war on drugs has created. As a result, if your record contains a conviction for a crime that is no longer illegal, expungement may be the answer to moving forward without a criminal past.

While your record may still be accessible to certain government agencies, your marijuana charges would no longer appear when you apply for:

  • Education
  • Housing
  • Employment

If you seek expungement, the state’s attorneys can object. However, now that it is legal to possess 30 grams (one ounce) or less of marijuana, they can only make an objection based on whether you are the correct person named in the record.

While Illinois implements the scrubbing of former records, legislators in other states where recreational marijuana use is legal are working to determine ways to incorporate social justice provisions. And although you might feel as though you have unjustly paid your dues up until now, a clean slate may be ahead.