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September 20, 2022

House Judiciary Committee Will Soon Vote On Series Of Cannabis Bills, Here Are The Details

Credit: Benzinga, Joana Scopel

The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), is preparing to vote on a series of criminal justice reform bills. They include the bipartisan proposal to cleanse records of prior federal cannabis convictions.
The key committee of the House Committee will meet in the next few hours to also vote on a bill that provides funds for states that implement automatic expungement systems and the one that codifies retroactive relief for people incarcerated due to disparities of a crack-cocaine sentence.

What Are The Bills And What Would They Accomplish?

  • HR 2864: The “clean slate law” of the Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-De) representative would demand the automatic sealing of the criminal records for certain federal convictions of non-violent marijuana.
  • HR 5651: The “Fresh Start Act” sponsored by Rep. David Trone (D-MD) would provide federal funding to states that create their own systems of automated expungement. Though it does not specify the types of crimes that would warrant relief, a growing number of states are taking steps to implement systems of automatic expungement for marijuana convictions, and those states would benefit from the new funding, reported Marijuana Moment.
  • HR 5455Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)’s “Terry Technical Correction Act” responds to a 2021 United States Supreme Court ruling that held that a law reducing the federal disparity of Crack-cocaine was not applied retroactively in cases that did not trigger a mandatory minimum sentence.

“Justice is popular amongst all voters across the ideological spectrum and the Democratic majority taking action to expunge marijuana convictions is the political response to this public policy demand,” Justin Strekalthe founder of the BOWL PAC told Marijuana Moment, hoping to “see reform advance with enough bipartisan support to clear the Senate.”

The Judiciary Committee will also point to three other pieces of reform legislation that are not directly related to drug policy.

SAFE Banking Plus Is Moving Forward As Well

As the House committee prepares to vote on these bills, Senate leadership is working to finalize a package of marijuana reform proposals. Among them, is the so-called “SAFE Banking Plus” which was recently discussed by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the sponsor of the independent Safe and Fair Banking (SAFE) Act, bill at the Payments, Banking, and Compliance (PBC) Conference.

Recently, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said that “SAFE Plus” omnibus legislation “is expected to provide protections for banks that work with state-legal marijuana businesses and also address other racial justice issues.”