The notion that this coming season will be the marijuana election in Michigan got a boost recently when gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar made a curious statement. He announced that if voters legalize recreational marijuana in November’s election, then people imprisoned for low-level marijuana offenses should be released.
The notion seemed to come out of nowhere — just as Thanedar seems to have, as far as the politics are concerned. It was a surprise because expunging the records of those arrested is not the hot topic du jour for the marijuana crowd. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has basically been lying low since turning the petitions to put the question on the ballot over to the state. Right now the ball is in the state’s court on what to do.
Thanedar’s statement is curious because it presupposes that the question will be on the ballot (we’re still not sure yet) and then pass. Then he stakes out a position to the left of the CRMLA — which is pretty gutsy for anyone running for governor in Michigan.
Maybe he caught the news a couple of weeks ago that the district attorney of California’s Alameda County intends to vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions.
It’s happened elsewhere. Earlier, the San Francisco County district attorney announced plans to review, dismiss, and seal some 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions going back to 1975. Actually, California’s legalization that passed in 2016 included a provision that allowed people who have been convicted of marijuana crimes to have their charges lowered or wiped away.
Colorado, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Oregon have created avenues for marijuana convictions to be sealed or expunged. Massachusetts is looking at something similar, as well as Seattle. It seems a natural extension of rolling back prohibition to show retroactive justice to those