This past legislative session in Washington State we wrote several times about a measure – House Bill 1661 – which would have allowed those with a past marijuana misdemeanor to have it cleared, or “vacated”, from their record. The measure garnered intense support from within the cannabis community, and was filed by a large bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, led by State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (who we did a Q&A with in February). After successfully passing through its initial two committees, the measure eventually stalled before reaching a full House vote. However, Representative Fitzgibbon has let us know that he’s continuing the effort, and is making it one of his top priorities in the next session.
“After the dust settles from the implementation of I-502 I think that legislators will be more interested in helping people who have a misdemeanor marijuana conviction have a second chance so they don’t have an unnecessary roadblock standing in the way of getting housing, jobs, and education”, Representative Fitzgibbon told us this morning.
Essentially this legislation would apply the 1 ounce decriminalization brought forth by Initiative 502, and would apply it retroactively, allowing individuals to remove a marijuana possession charge from their record, instantly reopening some of the lost opportunities associated with such a charge, such as the potential loss of student loans.
Fitzgibbon let us know that the measure would have had a “really good chance” of passing the House if it would have been scheduled for a vote, something House Majority Leader Frank Chopp failed to do. Those in Washington State should feel urged to contact him, which they can do by clicking here.
In addition, residents should be looking up and contacting their district’s legislators, asking them to support the compassionate move of allowing those with a marijuana possession misdemeanor – something voters have decided shouldn’t be a crime – to have it removed from their record.
We applaud Representative Fitzgibbon for working towards this needed improvement, and hope that other state officials decide do the same.