The legislation that legalized recreational marijuana use last year included provisions to overturn and reduce previous convictions related to the use and sale of cannabis.
On Saturday, legal experts will explain how this process can be controlled.
The Erie County District Attorney’s Office is working with attorneys from the Assigned Legal Counsel Program and the Legal Aid Bureau to host a consultation on the subject from 2-4 p.m. at the Elim Christian Fellowship Church, 70 Chalmers Ave. The consultation is free and it is the second that the legal community has offered on the subject.
While in many cases these convictions should be automatically erased, this does not happen immediately. The courts have until March 31, 2023 to implement the system to delete these records.
Also, certain marijuana-related charges related to the sale and possession of large quantities of marijuana are not automatically removed. You may be eligible for release or for a charge or reduced sentence.
To expedite the process or get the more complicated cases going, an application must be made to the court.
A criminal conviction, even for a low-level marijuana felony, can be a barrier to people trying to find a new home, job or education, District Attorney John J. Flynn said in a statement.
“African Americans are disproportionately affected by the criminalization of cannabis, which has prevented them from pursuing certain life opportunities,” Flynn said. “I hope to give our citizens living with these criminal convictions a fresh start by offering legal assistance to expedite the deletion or reduction process.”
“Expungement gives people the opportunity to apply for jobs, education and housing without a marijuana conviction negatively impacting the brighter future they hope to have,” said Sarah Ryan of the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc. in a Explanation.
To obtain a reduction or vacancy in conviction, participants must provide proof of identity and complete an application and financial eligibility forms to allow attorneys access to court records and criminal records. Legal experts will appear at the sessions to answer questions about the deletion process, since not all marijuana convictions are included in the legislation.
Courts will automatically overturn convictions for most minor marijuana offenses, including possession and sale of small amounts and growing cannabis at home. For some counts, convictions can only be vacated if the controlled substance in question was concentrated cannabis and not something else.