WASHINGTON, D.C.- A new bi-partisan effort in Congress is aiming to seal the records of individuals with non-violent cannabis convictions.
Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and 20 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus are joining Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) in supporting a recently introduced bill that would keep non-violent cannabis offenses off of their criminal records. Offenders would be required to avoid criminal conviction for one year after they are released from incarceration.
The group seems to be aware that their alliance may seem a bit unorthodox. Blunt Rochester describes the bi-partisan group to CBS News as “strange bedfellows.”
The “Clean Slate Act,” seems to be creating strange bedfellows outside of Congress as well. Freedom Works, a conservative organization closely associated with the Koch brothers, is supporting the bill. The bill is also being supported by the Center for American Progress, a group rarely aligned with the interests of the Koch brothers.
“We have people who are at the extremes almost of the continuum,” Blunt Rochester said, “And I think that’s an unusual thing especially in today’s [political] climate.”
Blum and Blunt Rochester feel the bill could help clear the records for millions so that they can return to work and fill millions of vacant positions in the job market. However, Blum may need to convince fellow Republican members of Congress who are often hesitant to support criminal justice and cannabis reform measures.
“For people that are against this, I suggest they tour prisons,” Blum advised.
With the Trump administration sending mixed signals on cannabis reform and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions harsh stance against cannabis, Congress could be the best hope for millions of non-violent offenders seeking criminal justice reform.
Although they are members of the same political party, Blum disagrees with Sessions’ view on cannabis.
“I personally think the attorney general’s position on, for example, marijuana is–he’s a bit out of step.”