Advocates working to clean records of marijuana-related offenses – Spectrum News

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As a former public defender, Miles Gresham encountered many people with marijuana-related offenses, most of them from Black and Latinx demographics. To let arrest records tell it, these communities possess and use the substance most. Statistically, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The data shows that white people use marijuana on average more than Black or brown people, but we make up the vast majority of arrests,” said Gresham, Partnership for the Public Good Policy fellow.

When the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was signed into state law in March 2021, it not only saw recreational marijuana legalized in New York state for the first time, it also brought about expungement opportunities for most marijuana convictions in the state. 

However, the process is still not entirely designed to work for those who could benefit from it most.

“Of the 600,000 people roughly who were eligible to have their records sealed under that, about 2,500, give or take, have actually done so,” said Gresham. “It requires a lot of resources and time that often folks with lower incomes, working class people, don’t have.”

Expungement under the MRTA could take up to two years, which further denies millions

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