AOC and Dave Joyce Team Up for Cannabis Reform HOPE Act

As congressional administrators work to push federal cannabis legalization, a bipartisan couple on Thursday filed a measure that would incentivize states and local governments to seal cannabis records in their domains.

Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) are co-sponsoring the measure, known formally as the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act.

It would embolden states to provide support to people with non-violent cannabis crimes via federal grants. For instance, the State Expungement Opportunity Grant Program, run via the Department of Justice. The aforementioned grant would help cover the organizational costs of identifying and sealing eligible cases. The measure proposes to allocate $2 million in funding to support the plan for each fiscal year beginning in 2023 and finishing in 2032.

Particularly, the federal grants could be utilized by states to acquire technology used to facilitate expungements at large, automate the deliverance process, fund legal firms to help citizens get their records sealed, and back innovative organizations to grant sizable relief.

‘Having been a public defender and a prosecutor, I have witnessed first-hand how cannabis law breaches can confiscate a lifetime of opportunities varying from employment to education to shelter,” Joyce stated generally in a press statement. ‘The collateral damage created by these missed possibilities is woefully undervalued and has influenced entire families, communities, and regional markets.’

‘By helping legal states set up and improve expungement arrangements for minor cannabis crimes, the HOPE Act will pave the way for extended economic possibilities to flourish alongside efficient investments to remedy the negative impact caused by the War on Drugs,” the congressman summarized.

Ocasio-Cortez stated that ‘as we continue to push for the decriminalization and legalization of the cannabis plant, this bipartisan measure will grant localities the support they need to seal drug charges that continue to hold back tens of thousands of Americans, disproportionately minorities, from employment, shelter, and other possibilities.’

Under the measure, state governors and local governments “shall put forth to the attorney general an application at such time, in such manner, and including such data as the attorney general may reasonably expect” to qualify for the federal grants.

Moreover, the bill would require the attorney general to carry out research on the impacts of cannabis crimes on individuals, as well as the economic costs for states that jail people over non-violent cannabis crimes.

Officials in domains that receive federal grants would be mandated to write on a publicly accessible website data about the availability and method of sealing convictions for cannabis crimes, including data for individuals living in a different locale who were convicted of a cannabis crime in that jurisdiction.

They would also need to put forth to the attorney general a statement describing the uses of such grant money, and how many convictions for cannabis crimes have been sealed using such funds.

‘This bipartisan resolution represents the growing consensus to reform cannabis policies in a manner that directs the harms inflicted by prohibition and the war on drugs,’ NORML Political Director Justin Strekal stated generally. ‘It puts forth cash assistance for state and localities that are choosing to seal these stigmatizing crimes. There is no reason for continuing to prevent tens of millions of Americans from fully engaging in their community and workforce solely because they bear the burden of a prior cannabis conviction.’

Finally, efforts to provide significant relief to those who carry the scarlet letter of cannabis convictions must be taken out primarily by state and local administrators Having this federal stimulus available will go a great distance toward enabling local leaders and citizens to take these steps to approach the past injustices brought about by the failed policy of cannabis prohibition.

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