Maine Holds Public Hearing on Bills to Clear Marijuana Convictions

On May 7, Maine held a public hearing on a trio of bills that would clear criminal and civil records related to marijuana. The hearing, which took place before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, heard testimony from private citizens and those working in Maine’s developing legal industry. And while the state gets set to release the final version of its regulatory plan for that industry, Tuesday’s public hearings provided an opportunity to discuss the social justice aspects of Maine’s 2016 legalization of adult-use cannabis.

Advocates Demand Maine Clear Past Marijuana Convictions

In January, Maine lawmakers began drafting a handful of bills to expunge or seal past cannabis convictions. Those bills adopted divergent approaches toward the same goal. Richard Farnsworth’s (D-Orono) and Sen. James Dill’s (D-Portland) bills aimed to expunge all prior non-violent misdemeanor cannabis possession convictions, as several states including California, Washington and Maryland and some major municipalities like Denver and Brooklyn have done. By contrast, Rep. Justin Fecteau (R-Augusta) and Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portand) proposed sealing rather than expunging past convictions.

On Tuesday, Maine’s Judiciary Committee held the first public hearing on proposals representing both approaches. And based on public comment, advocates are eager for the state to adopt

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