Bipartisan bill would create mechanism to expunge federal marijuana misdemeanors

Rep. Troy Carter (D-La.) introduced a bill on Friday that would create a mechanism for federal misdemeanor marijuana offenses to be expunged, amid a new push for decriminalization at the federal level. 

Carter said in a press release shared with The Hill that the legislation, which is being cosponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), will provide an “expedited, orderly process” to clear non-felony offenses that are lingering in the federal system. He said it will restore justice to millions who have suffered “inordinate collateral consequences” from marijuana-related misdemeanors. 

“These misdemeanors — even without a conviction — can result in restrictions to peoples’ ability to access educational aid, housing assistance, occupational licensing and even foster parenting,” Carter said. “Delivering justice for our citizens who have been impacted by marijuana-related misdemeanors is a key component of comprehensive cannabis reform.” 

More than half of all states have at least decriminalized weed, but it remains illegal at the federal level. More than 20 states have passed legislation to create a process for having certain marijuana-related convictions expunged, vacated, set aside or sealed from public view, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. 

Multiple cannabis reform advocates backed the legislation in the release. 

Weldon Angelos, the president of The Weldon Project, which works to provide financial assistance to those serving time in prison for cannabis-related offenses, said the legislation will be “lifechanging” for many Americans and their families. 

“For far too long, millions of Americans have been affected by the lifelong consequences of marijuana-related convictions on their record for simply possessing a small quantity of cannabis,” he said. 

Davis did not immediately return a request from The Hill for comment. 

Members of Congress have recently introduced multiple other pieces of legislation to reform federal laws on marijuana use. 

The House passed a bill in April, which was introduced by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), in an almost party-line vote to eliminate criminal penalties for people who manufacture, distribute or possess marijuana. The legislation faces an uncertain future in the 50-50 Senate. 

The House also passed a bill that month to allow legal cannabis businesses to use banking services.