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Clearing Marijuana Convictions

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The idea that people who smoke marijuana and provide small quantities to their friends should continue to classified as criminals is frankly ridiculous and harms the economy. Drug convictions in Michigan are generally not expungeable. We have a law "7411" that allows a first time drug offender who avoids trouble to avoid a conviction. We have another, the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, that applies to student age offenders for a variety of crimes. But prosecutors and judges must agree to confer these benefits on the offenders.

Many young people, as parents of teenagers will acknowledge, do not always show the best attitude. This can translate into a police officer, prosecutor or judge deciding that the young person should have a record that sticks.

I have never been a believer that marijuana is good for people or for our society. But it clearly doesn't kill nearly as many people as alcohol or tobacco. And the criminalization and indeed the "war on drugs" has been a major drag on the economy as it hobbles careers. Student loans, bank loans for starting businesses, and a variety of other job opportunities have been denied to many solid citizens who preferred a joint to a beer. The proliferation of drug tests for a variety of jobs that bars marijuana "positives" from employment is essentially prejudice.

The culture has overwhelmingly rejected the notion that marijuana is dangerous. Our completely failed approach to the opiate crisis which now kills more of us than car accidents demonstrates that our criminalization policies are the opposite of sensible. Our prisons are filled with "dangerous drug dealers" while more Americans than ever are dying from drugs. We are focused on the wrong drug.

I assure you that criminal cases continue to be routinely brought among marijuana smokers in Michigan.

It is time to follow the lead of the western states and stop branding our fellow citizens as criminals who indulge in marijuana. Prior criminal records should be automatically expunged. This is exactly what prosecutors in San Francisco and San Diego are doing.

Michigan should legalize marijuana, and thousands of our fellow citizens should have their criminal records erased. 

To read the N.Y. Times article, San Francisco Will Clear Thousands of Marijuana Convictions, click here

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