October 20-27 is National Expungement Week.
Even after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation earlier this month to streamline the process for getting cannabis convictions expunged, wiping a criminal record clean isn’t as easy as it should be.
“The process is messy, costly, and confusing,” says Adam Vine, co-founder of Cage-Free Cannabis, the Los Angeles-based organization committed to repairing harms of the War on Drugs through efforts like expungement events. “Ideally you want a lawyer to help you go through the paperwork, so we’ve arranged for pro bono attorneys. There are fees to submit paperwork – and applicants can access fee waivers at these events.”
For the first time, organizers in the field of cannabis equity, justice and repair have joined forces for a week of events around California and the country to do just that. National Expungement Week will feature events all over the U.S., with California hosting seminars in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Long Beach, and Inglewood.
[To find an event in your city, visit www.offtherecord.us.]
“In the places where expungement (or record change, or record sealing, or nullification) is possible, we’ll expunge,” Vine says. “In the places where that isn’t yet possible, we’ll demand that it be made possible.”
Convictions are more than just a remnant from the War on Drugs.
Criminal records – even those for cannabis convictions slated to disappear after state-wide legalization – continue to prevent people from gaining access to housing, employment, education, and public assistance. National Expungement Week events will offer as many wraparound services as possible to restore people’s rights and open new pathways.
Vine, who co-founded Cage-Free cannabis with Andrew Epstein, runs the org’s day-to-day operations, working in the overlapping worlds of advocacy, media, and politics. A cannabis consumer and patient for the last 20 years, Vine says he “felt a personal and professional responsibility to join the cause and support organizations focused on repairing communities affected by harmful drug policies.”
Besides expungement counseling and services for some of the 77 million Americans with convictions on their records, organizers will also provide health screenings, job opportunities, food, public benefits, voter registration support, and other resources.
For National Expungement Week events in and around Los Angeles, click here.
For National Expungement Week events in and around San Francisco, click here.