A law firm, cannabis companies, and a few nonprofits are hosting an expungement clinic to help those convicted of low-level cannabis offenses clear their records on Sept. 14 in Newark.
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Doubletree by Hilton Penn Station Hotel, people can receive free legal assistance about the process to apply for expungement.
Hosted by 420NJEvents, a Black-owned cannabis lifestyle brand, and sponsored by Brach Eichler LLC, Columbia Care, REEForm New Jersey, Apothecarium, and Minority Cannabis Academy, the clinic will help folks who have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs with pro-bono legal services from Brach Eichler.
Two-thirds of New Jerseyans approved a referendum to legalize cannabis for adult use in November 2020, and Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law legalizing its use in February.
“Why should some people have their lives ruined, while others are getting rich in the industry?” said Brendon Robinson, co-founder and vice president of 420NJEvents. “This clinic will give people an opportunity to have a life after cannabis. No longer will low-level cannabis crimes ruin someone’s life.”
Cannabis prohibition laws have disproportionately impacted communities of color, according to a 2019 ACLU-NJ report. The report found that prior to legalization, Black New Jerseyans were arrested at 3.5 times the rate of white New Jerseyans despite similar consumption levels.
“As New Jersey looks to establish its recreational marijuana market, there must be a focus on righting the societal wrongs that the prohibition of cannabis has created,” said Charles Gormally, who co-chairs of the cannabis practice at Brach Eichler. “We need more individuals, particularly Black and brown people, to understand the law and their rights, what it means, and how it can help them.”
“Inequities have plagued the cannabis industry since it first started being legalized in select states,” said Ngiste Abebe, vice president of public policy at Columbia Care. “It’s our responsibility as leaders of this evolving industry to make social justice initiatives such as expungement a priority, especially ahead of adult-use sales and federal legalization. We’re thrilled to be partnering with like-minded organizations for this clinic and hopefully more to come.”