By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Simple marijuana possession is legal in several states and is likely to be in others in the future. Yet, the taint of a marijuana conviction on record can be a limiting factor for the convicted seeking employment and other benefits–Especially for engaging in an act that is essentially legal in green states. While certainly the courts are under no present obligation to expunge these records, morally it can be argued that state legislatures should put this social handicap to a rest.
Simply put the run-of-the-mill stoner is not a menace to society. The drug kingpins are. A case certainly can be made that the latter’s criminal record should remain permanent as could likely be articulated with most felony (trafficking) drug charges that organized crime and associated felonies contribute to disruptions. There is a fundamental difference between these two.
Presently there is a movement in many states to remove the right of employers, in general, to have on job applications a check box for the applicant to use if they have a criminal conviction. Many employers will read this box and simply discard the application from further consideration. There is an articulable need for specific cases such as banks needing information concerning conviction records for theft or embezzlement but it is doubtful that simple marijuana possession records in green states should bar an applicant from further consideration when it is immaterial to the requirements of the position applied for.
But in addition to this for otherwise law-abiding citizens the stigma of having a criminal record tends to have a chilling effect to some degree on self esteem and confidence to move forward. For many it is an unnecessary burden.
It is time to move forward and expunge simple marijuana conviction records.
By Darren Smith
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