Robinson Aims to Address Thousands Left Behind After Marijuana Legalization

Friday, July 19, 2019

DETROIT — State Rep. Isaac Robinson (D-Detroit) presented a legislative plan yesterday to automatically vacate all marijuana convictions in the state of Michigan, including those related to the manufacturing, delivery and possession. This expansive legislation aims to fulfill the promise to expunge convictions after recreational marijuana was legalized in the state.

“Society looks at marijuana differently today; but unfortunately, we have people who are still incarcerated. This is a call to apply the law equally to all; it’s our opportunity to make up for harsh and severe sentences,” Robinson said. “The only way forward is to free those who are now serving unjust sentences for what is no longer considered a punishable crime in our state. Michigan should be at the forefront of bringing justice to those punished by outdated – and often discriminatory – laws.”        

Rep. Robinson’s plan would create an automatic expungement process for all marijuana convictions, including felonies. The proposal would also require all qualifying convictions be set aside within 45 days after the law takes effect.

“The fact that thousands of people across Michigan and the country have criminal records for marijuana convictions and now this same substance is legal with people making billions of dollars from its production and distribution demonstrates there is still much-needed work to be done to make this country a more perfect union,” added Pastor Kevin Harris. “Anyone in Michigan who has a marijuana conviction of any kind should immediately be eligible to have that conviction expunged.”

Currently, 11 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, but not all have taken the additional step to expunge past convictions or commute existing sentences. Illinois is set to expunge the records of nearly 800,000 people next year.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Khari Wheeler, Executive Board member, Motor City National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “Let's dispense some justice along with our dispensaries.”