Ohio cities could expunge thousands of marijuana offensesPosted by On

COLUMBUS – Legislation awaiting the governor’s signature could open the door for cities to execute mass expungements of drug possession offenses from their citizens’ records.

The proposal comes after Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb in April announced plans to apply to expunge more than 4,000 convictions for the possession of marijuana. He later walked his attempt back after running into a state-level legal blockage.

Bibb, a Democrat in his first term, worked with Sen. Nathan Manning, a Republican from North Ridgeville, on a state proposal to give cities and prosecutors the power to apply for expungement on a person’s behalf. Too many people dogged by minor drug offenses don’t know how to navigate the current expungement process or lack the means to hire an attorney for help, Bibb said in an interview.

“We wanted to remove some barriers for folks trying to get a job or seek additional educational opportunities,” he said. “We tried to test the limits of the law.”

Under the bill passed in the Ohio legislature’s lame-duck session this month, a county prosecutor or city law director can apply to expunge fourth-degree or minor misdemeanor drug offenses in the court that sentenced a suspect. Both the offender and victim must be notified and granted an opportunity to object.

It would apply to those convicted of possessing less than 200 grams of marijuana.

A DeWine spokesman said the governor plans to sign the legislation, which contains a sweeping overhaul of…

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