Medical and recreational marijuana remains to be illegal on the federal level, but Representatives Dave Joyce Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is working on a bill that will urge states to expunge records of non-violent convictions, said Marijuana Moment. The Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement or the HOPE Act seeks to create a foundation for states to address one issue that has been plaguing individuals who have been charged and convicted of a non-violent marijuana-related act.

Through a federal grant to be called the State Expungement Opportunity Grant Program, which will give states funds to evaluate and clear cases that pass the eligibility for expungement. The grant will be valued at $2 million and will be provided for every fiscal year from 2023 to 2032.

States can use the fund to acquire the technology needed to facilitate the identification, evaluation, and clearing of cases at a massive level. It can also be funneled toward legal clinics that individuals with records can go to seek assistance for the expungement.

AOC Sponsors HOPE Act

Representative Joyce of the Ohio GOP wants to help people with eligible cases to take back the opportunities they missed because of their marijuana records. He said, “Having been both a public defender and a prosecutor, I have seen first-hand how cannabis law violations can foreclose a lifetime of opportunities ranging from employment to education to housing.”

“The collateral damage caused by these missed opportunities is woefully underestimated and has impacted entire families, communities, and regional economies,” Joyce added.

According to Joyce HOPE Act can be a way to establish expungement programs in states where such do not exist and improve the programs of those that already do. It can also create more economic opportunities for individuals affected by the War on Drugs.

Ocasio-Cortez is working with Joyce to write the bill. According to her, “As we continue to advocate for the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, this bipartisan bill will provide localities the resources they need to expunge drug charges that continue to hold back Americans, disproportionately people of color, from employment, housing, and other opportunities.”

The HOPE Act is in line with the social equity provisions included in the state’s medical and adult-use recreational marijuana laws. These measures are taken to correct the disproportionate and inequitable implementation of marijuana prohibition. They specifically seek to help individuals and communities establish cannabis businesses in states where it is legal.

Recreational Marijuana Laws

The bill will allow state and local governments to submit applications to the attorney general including information required to be eligible for the grant.

Bipartisan efforts can be observed in several states, which can be an indication that the harmful effects of the prohibition are slowly being realized by both parties.

Aside from the HOPE Act, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement or the MORE Act is another federal bill that seeks to promote the expungement of minor marijuana records. It has been introduced and still needs to pass the House and the Senate, before reaching the President in order for it to become law.

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