Rosen Introduces Legislation to Help Expunge or Seal Marijuana Convictions in States Where Cannabis is Legal

Bill Would Create Program To Cover Costs Of Expunging or Sealing Cannabis Offenses In States Like Nevada Where Marijuana Has Been Legalized Or Decriminalized

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced the Harnessing Opportunity by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act to help expunge cannabis convictions in states where it has been legalized or decriminalized by establishing a new federal grant program to cover the costs of these expungements or sealing of records. The funding can be used to update record-keeping technology, automate the expungement process, support legal clinics that assist individuals through the expungement process, and to seal records of conviction for marijuana offenses. 

“While cannabis has been regulated in our state since 2017, many Nevadans are still dealing with the effects of past low-level marijuana offenses. Having a record for something that is now legal in our state threatens Nevadans’ ability to get a job, apply for housing, and contribute to our state’s economy,” said Senator Rosen. “That’s why I’m introducing this bipartisan bill to help expunge and seal certain marijuana convictions in states like Nevada where it has been legalized or decriminalized. I’ll continue working across the aisle to support commonsense cannabis reform that helps small businesses in our state.”

“Removing the barriers caused by cannabis criminal records is one important step in addressing the harms caused by the Nation’s flawed and misguided cannabis criminalization laws,” said Riana Durrett, Director of the UNLV Cannabis Policy Institute. “The Cannabis Policy Institute is in support of legislation that seeks to expunge criminal records for low-level cannabis offenses and is thankful for Senator Rosen’s consistent championing of sensible cannabis legislation like the HOPE Act.”

“The Nevada Cannabis Association strongly supports any legislation that seeks to remedy the harm created by low-level cannabis offenses,” said Layke Martin, Executive Director, Nevada Cannabis Association. “Senator Rosen’s HOPE Act of 2024 would go a long way towards removing the barriers to expungement in many states and, in Nevada, towards sealing cannabis records that might otherwise negatively impact Nevadans in a state where both medical and adult-use cannabis have been legal for many years. The NCA is thankful for Senator Rosen’s continued efforts at social justice reform, as well as her support of Nevada’s safe, regulated cannabis industry.”

“As the Administration continues to review the federal classification of cannabis, we continue to call for more to be done on criminal justice reform that is outside the scope of the administrative scheduling process. The HOPE Act will do just that by allowing federal funds to be access by local and state governments that choose to move the ball forward in their own jurisdictions by expunging records of those charged with cannabis-related conduct that is now legal under their laws,” said Saphira Galoob, Executive Director of the National Cannabis Roundtable. “Only through expungements can barriers to employment, education, and housing be lifted, and with the majority of cannabis-related charges happening on the state and local level, the federal assistance the HOPE Act would provide can have a major impact on individual lives. We applaud the leadership of Senator Rosen in putting forward this bipartisan measure in the Senate to help right the wrongs of continued federal prohibition and the harm it has caused to communities across the country – many of which have now legalized cannabis – as we continue to work towards holistic federal cannabis policy reforms.”

“The Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act is a key piece of legislation that will provide states and localities the resources they need to implement automated expungement or record sealing processes for cannabis offenses,” said Anthony Lamorena, Senior Manager of Federal Affairs at the R Street Institute. “This bill provides a second chance for the millions of Americans who have cannabis arrests or convictions and restores their access to education, employment, housing, and other resources they need to remain law-abiding. Studies show that access to these life necessities provides the much-needed support to remain crime-free, which allows them to contribute to society and the economy. Our communities are safer and our economy is stronger when individuals no longer face the pervasive barriers of a criminal record. For these reasons, we at the R Street Institute are happy to endorse the HOPE Act, and we applaud Sen. Rosen (D-NV) on her bipartisan leadership to tackle this important issue.”

Additionally, Senator Rosen’s HOPE Act is endorsed by NORML, Americans for Prosperity, and the Last Prisoner Project.

Senator Rosen has been a strong advocate for cannabis reform in Congress. Last year, Senator Rosen helped introduce the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act to ensure that legal cannabis businesses have access to banking and insurance services. She also applauded the Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendation of easing marijuana restrictions, an important step towards rescheduling marijuana. Last Congress, Senator Rosen introduced the Fair Access for Cannabis Small Business Act to ensure that legally-operating cannabis small businesses have equal access to loans and programs provided by the Small Business Administration.