New Washington State Bill Would Expunge Past Cannabis Convictions

A new bill filed by Washington State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon would allow Washington citizens convicted of misdemeanor possession of cannabis to have the charge fully expunged from their record. When a charge is expunged, it is permanently removed from the court record, meaning it would no longer appear on a criminal background check. The bill has received an outcry of support from cannabis activists and enthusiasts, who believe that now cannabis is legal, the courts should look back and remove charges for those recently punished for its personal use.

House Bill 1041 would do just that, allowing those who were charged with possession of up to 40 grams of cannabis to have it removed from their record as long as that person has no pending criminal charges. People with a history of a DUI or certain violent offenders would also be ineligible to have their records expunged.

Section 1 of the bill reads:

“Every person convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana offense 7 under RCW 69.50.4014, who was twenty-one years of age or older at the time of the offense, may apply to the sentencing court for a vacation of the applicant’s record of conviction for the offense.”

The bill will have over 20 legislative cosponsors when sessions begin on January 12th. The full text of the bill can be found here, and is identical in many ways to a bill introduced in 2013. That proposal was approved by two committees, but never made it to an actual vote in the House of Representatives. This year, with legalization already in the rear-view, it’s looking like the bill has a much greater chance of making it to the floor for a vote.

We at Leafbuyer believe that people should never be punished for non-violent, personal use of cannabis. It makes sense that the government should expunge the records of these “offenders,” because let’s face it, they never actually did anybody harm to begin with.