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In Oregon, legalization includes amnesty for past pot crimes

By Oscar Pascual |

Oregon may not be the first state to legalize cannabis, though California’s northern neighbor is pioneering marijuana law reform.

While the state legalized marijuana for recreational use earlier this year, Oregon also passed two new laws to help people with past marijuana-related offenses. the New York Times reports.

One such law requires courts to use current legal standards — under which the possession, cultivation and sale of marijuana is completely legal — when clearing records of past violations. The other law provides for rapid data clarification for people under the age of 21 at the time of the previous conviction.

“Oregon is one of the first states to really struggle with what to do with a record of something that used to be a crime and isn’t anymore,” said Jenny M. Roberts, a law professor at American University at Washington. , DC, to the Times.

Yet another state law, which isn’t even limited to just marijuana-related offenses, allows anyone with a low-level felony, misdemeanor, or non-traffic offense to have their records erased if 10 years have passed without a new conviction.

The law was a boon to resident Erika Walton, who was charged with marijuana possession 15 years ago when she handed a bong to someone who turned out to be a police officer. Until recently, Walton has had to divulge this information with every job application.

“It took a big part of my life,” Walton told the Times as she took her fingerprints, which Oregon demands from job applicants. “That’s why this means so much to me today.”

Legal experts say Oregon has surpassed their expectations of pot law reform, which could serve as a model for future states to vote to legalize marijuana.

“Oregon has gone further than anyone else in criminal justice reform for marijuana,” Leland R. Berger, who specializes in marijuana law and practice in Portland, told the Times.

Photo credit: Flickr.com/Oregondot

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