National Expungement Week is upon us, which means clinics and events will take place nationwide to help past offenders move forward with their lives. And with laws allowing legal cannabis since 2012, the state is ripe for record-sealing opportunities, advocates believe.
On Saturday, September 21, the National Expungement Week team will work alongside cannabis employment recruiter Vangst and voter-registration group Headcount to give those harmed by previous cannabis, drug and other charges a chance at new opportunities in the cannabis industry. The clinic is part of a national week of events and awareness running from September 21 through September 28.
The NEW events throughout the week aim to alert communities that have been impacted by past charges of already-existing resources to help them seal their records and take essential steps toward moving on to better lives. The Denver clinic is open to everyone with eligible low-level charges that took place in Colorado, and isn’t necessarily restricted to just cannabis and drug offenses.
Past charges can affect much more than employment chances in the pot industry, NEW points out, with housing, education and loan applications, public assistance and voting rights all affected by past convictions. Rosalie Flores, a NEW organizer, says many with past charges don’t think they’re eligible for the cannabis industry, and just need some more information about its required qualifications.
“The cannabis space can kind of be like a bubble,” she says. “Some people haven’t considered working in the industry or know much about it. But if your records are sealed, you can work in the industry.”
Denver cannabis activist and fellow NEW organizer Melanie Rodgers says diversity and inclusion are important to today’s cannabis industry, but victims of the War on Drugs and underserved populations aren’t profiting from legal pot as much as they should.
“Not many who are black, brown or Asian are in the cannabis industry. The industry is basically comprised of one group of people: white men,” she says. “But everyone should be allowed to have a seat at the table and reshape the future. Everyone should have a chance to be seen and heard in this industry.”
Attendees will learn about programs offered by Boulder and Denver that clear past cannabis convictions for crimes that are now legal (the charges must have occurred within their respective jurisdictions) — and how the state legislature altered a state law that…