Maybe? Some day?
It’s now legal for adults in Michigan to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana outside of their home, and 10 ounces inside of their home. So what does that mean for all the people who had arrests that were under those limits?
And what about the folks who had possession limits that were above? These are considered citations now and not actual criminal convictions.
Will Michigan expunge marijuana-related convictions of this nature?
That was the plan. But as of now, it’s not happening.
Michigan Needs to Get on Board
Of the ten states that now permit recreational marijuana, only two have yet to create a path to expungement for behavior that is now considered legal. That would be Michigan, and our neighbors to the extreme far north – Alaska.
As of now, more than 10,000 residents who have been convicted of minor pot-related offenses in the past decade are unable to clear their criminal records.
Plus, there are 3,500 Michigan residents being held behind bars or on probation for felony marijuana offenses.
In other states, the law that legalized recreational marijuana contained a provision allowing for reevaluation and expungement of marijuana-related convictions. But not in Michigan.
And it’s been over six months since Proposal 1 passed.
The Struggle Is All Too Real
“Something needs to be done immediately,” says attorney Barton Morris of the Cannabis Legal Group in Royal Oak.
“There are people currently serving probation, jail, and prison sentences for nonviolent marijuana-related convictions,” he continues. “Every day that goes by is another strike of injustice to them, especially ones serving sentences for offenses for marijuana-related conduct that is permitted today.”
As an attorney and leading advocate for expunging pot-related offenses and pardoning people who are in jail for offenses that are now civil infractions, Morris knows this better than anyone else.
In fact, one of his clients was sentenced to five years in prison in 2018 after opening a city-sanctioned medical cannabis dispensary in Detroit.
The problem was that Morris’ client was also allowing people to grow marijuana out of homes he owned in Oakland County to supply the dispensary.
He wasn’t doing anything different from dozens of other dispensaries. But the notoriously anti-marijuana Oakland County law enforcement didn’t see it that way.
As a result, he was housed with rapists and other violent offenders when he first landed in prison. For attempting to help people with medical marijuana cards.
Meanwhile, his family of five is traumatized – struggling to get by on their own.
So Will Michigan Expunge Marijuana-Related Convictions?
We’re in cannabis marketing and public relations, not soothsaying. But we certainly hope so.
Governor Whitmer DID promise to expunge pot-related criminal records after legalization. But her office claims that she does not have the legal authority to unilaterally expunge marijuana convictions.
They also say she’s open to discussing this issue with her legislative partners to ensure that residents don’t have a lifelong record for conduct that’s now legal.
It doesn’t seem to be happening though. And this slow dragging of the feet has been frustrating to pot offenders and advocates for social justice reform. Particularly since Whitmer ran on a pro-legalization platform.
But she ran on maintaining no-fault insurance as well and was quite busy breaking that promise over Memorial Day weekend. So there is some concern.
The absolute best we can hope for is that Michigan will adopt an automatic expungement law. That way, the expungement could be done easily and without the need for an expungement application and individual magistrate.
Simple as the flip of switch. But thus far, there’s been nothing simple about legalizing recreational marijuana in Michigan.
In Need of Solid Public Relations and Marketing?
Will Michigan expunge marijuana-related convictions? Only time will tell.
But in the meantime, as folks continue to look at marijuana in different ways, it’s a good idea to make sure your cannabis business is in good standing.
Contact us today if you feel your public relations or marketing strategy could use some refreshing.