The Oregon Senate approved Senate Bill 420 on June 4, which would allow eligible residents who have past cannabis convictions to clear their records. This would be a huge step forward for cannabis consumers with past charges to start fresh.
This new legislation will only apply to crimes that are no longer illegal today, such as cannabis possession, delivery and manufacturing charges. According to SB-420, those who seek to have their cannabis-related crimes expunged will no longer have to pay fees related to expungement efforts. They also no longer need to provide a background check or be fingerprinted.
According to KTVZ, Senators voted 42 to 15 to petition the governor for the removal of past convictions. Those who supported the bill stated that people of color are disproportionately affected by cannabis charges, so this change can help to stop racist practices. They also said that those who were charged could still be facing negative consequences, even though cannabis is now legal. “The criminal convictions that resulted from the war on drugs have life altering consequences,” said bill sponsor Rep. Janelle Bynum. “This is the least we can do to eliminate barriers to housing, employment and education for people across the state who are still paying the price for actions that we have decriminalized. The impact of these convictions is life-long and extends beyond the individuals to their families and communities.”
Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer also stated that this is an important step forward for the state of Oregon, which will allow people with convictions to more freely be able to land a job and live in better home environments.
In addition to this bill, legislators in the state are working on creating legal cannabis lounges and legal interstate cannabis transport as well. If SB-420 gets the final stamp of approval from Gov. Kate Brown, it will become law.