Biden promises to give federal aid to states’ marijuana expungement efforts

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If elected president, Joe Biden will ensure states have money to erase certain marijuana convictions

On Tuesday, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said that he would put extra efforts into helping people with marijuana convictions have their records expunged if he’s elected president. According to Biden, this represents a major barrier in the system to allow growth opportunities to the communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. He said this during a speech about racial equity and the economy that the former vice president gave this week.

“Getting caught for smoking marijuana when you’re young surely shouldn’t deny you, the rest your life, being able to have a good-paying job or a career or a loan or an ability to rent an apartment,” said Biden. “Right now, that criminal record is the weight that holds back too many people of color, and many whites as well.” Biden added that the process of getting the records expunged needs to be improved as it can be “complicated and costly in the states where the records are kept.”

Despite still being opposed to the legalization of cannabis, Biden’s intention to help convicted people due to marijuana offenses continue. He said that more states should “recognize the significant costs to their economy when people with certain non-violent criminal records can’t fully contribute to their full talents and capacity.” Therefore, “even when the states want to give that person a second chance and seal or expunge a certain non-violent criminal record, the record keeping-systems are so outdated, they don’t know how to do it.”

Biden said that – if he is elected – he is planning on creating an automated expungement process that includes federal assistance for those states that want to implement it. “Under my plan, if a state decides it wants to implement an automated system for the sealing and expunging of certain nonviolent criminal records if a state chooses to do that, the federal government will help put together the process and allow them the money to be able to know how to organize to do that,” he added.