Expungement is the epicenter of reconciliation for those disenfranchised as a result of having a criminal record. The harsh and strict punishment handed out by our criminal justice system for small possessions of marijuana has contributed largely to mass incarceration, joblessness thus contributing to homelessness costing Americans trillions of dollars in tax revenue which is why the need for expungement is so imminent!

The impact of having a criminal record for something as petty as small marijuana possession is astronomical. Having this blemish on your record can haunt you for the rest of your life. Now that legislatures have finally repelled outdated laws and decriminalized small quantities of marijuana possession, we need to help those who have been directly impacted by officially exonerating them from these convictions. 

Expungement has the potential to change millions of lives in this country. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the workforce who are scared to ask for that promotion because they don’t want their frivolous conviction of small marijuana possession be exposed.  By providing retroactivity in relation to these sentences many Americans will be liberated from the stigma which plagues them from being associated with criminality. 

Overlooked by legislatures and mainstream society is how much of an impact having a record for small marijuana possession has on an individual’s potential growth. It hinders millions of people in various ways most would never imagine. Employers place great emphasis on asking if you’ve ever been arrested which differs completely from having a felony conviction. However, once you check the box admitting you’ve been arrested then you’re subjected to scrutiny which will ultimately determine whether you’re hired or fired. And if you are hired, to what extent. For many people expungement is the difference between continuing to work a minimum wage or being able to secure a pay raise at a salary based job. 

Many academic institutions require that students check the box on their college application if they’ve been arrested thus prejudicing them in the selection process providing a pathway for our youth to get caught up in the criminal justice system. The over representation of minorities in the criminal justice system only demonstrate that there is something inherently wrong with our system. This injustice along with the militarization of the police nationally has contributed largely to stop and frisk and the violation of individual’s undeniable human rights. 

The disproportionality of minorities incarcerated only highlight how marijuana usage is criminalized in certain neighborhoods as opposed to others. Once a person is pulled over or questioned by a police officer and he/she runs a record check, these minor marijuana possessions create a level of hostility. Recent altercations of violent incidents throughout the country involving law enforcement officials shooting unarmed civilians only illustrates the importance of decriminalization. 

Our last three presidents have publicly admitted to using marijuana during the course of their lives, yet we accepted them into the white house. So how come we are still acknowledging marijuana possession as a criminal act? Expungement will allow many Americans to provide better lives for themselves and their families. In fact, in some instances it can ultimately be the difference between life and death which is why the need is imminent, the need is now!