Philly lawmaker: Erase marijuana convictions for registered patients

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St. Rep. Jordan Harris (D., Phila.) will introduce a bill that will allow judges to vacate marijuana convictions for patients enrolled in the Pa. medical marijuana program.

A Pennsylvania state representative said Thursday he will introduce legislation that will vacate previous marijuana convictions for patients who have enrolled in the state medical marijuana program.

Jordan Harris (D., Phila.) first made the announcement Thursday morning on the “Wake Up with WURD” show on Philadelphia’s WURD-FM.

“It’s not expungement. I’m not saying we would vacate all cannabis convictions,” Harris said in an interview with the Inquirer and Daily News. “But this would allow judges to remove convictions for people who now have medical marijuana cards.”

San Francisco’s district attorney on Wednesday said that city prosecutors will toss out or reduce thousands of criminal convictions for marijuana dating back decades, according to the Associated Press. D.A. George Gascon said his office will dismiss nearly 3,000 misdemeanor cases and review nearly 5,000 felony cases.

Harris said he was seeking cosponsors for the bill and said he was “optimistic” it would make its way to Gov. Wolf’s desk and be signed into law.

“It makes no sense for something that is now deemed to be a medicine to be a permanent stain on a patient’s record,” he said, “especially if they were trying to treat a medical condition at the time of their arrest.”

The state’s first medical marijuana products will be available to patients the week of February 15 at a handful of dispensaries across the commonwealth. There are 17 “serious medical conditions” that qualify for access to the drug. Patients must first register with the program and receive a recommendation letter from an approved physician. Dispensaries will sell only oils, tinctures, lotions, and vape pen cartridges. Traditional smokable marijuana in the form of joints, buds, and shake will remain illegal.