A trio of dedicated attorneys—Andrew Cooper of Falcon Rappaport & Berkman LLP, Michael Hoffman of The Hoffman Centers PC, and John Williams of the Law Office of John D. Williams—are donating their time to help people expunge their records at an upcoming cannabis convention in New Jersey.
People currently sit in prison for cannabis-related convictions that are essentially the same activities that are now legal in dozens of states. Like several other states, New Jersey provided a pathway to expungement, though it usually takes the expertise of a legal professional. Certain low-level cannabis convictions in New Jersey are eligible for expungement, and an on-site legal team at the convention can provide more information about the criteria.
NJBiz reports that running from Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, New Jersey, the 420 Expo calls itself a “stigma-free celebration of the legal cannabis lifestyle” and will feature more than 100 vendors, live entertainment, educational seminars, celebrity appearances, and most importantly, expungement assistance.
“People with cannabis convictions often find it impossible to find jobs, housing, or college loans. They often lose their right to vote and the ability to receive public assistance. Many employers won’t hire anyone with a drug conviction or have policies requiring immediate termination if a past drug arrest is discovered—with or without a conviction. The issue is even more profound when you consider that a significant majority of those arrested for cannabis have been simple possession charges,” said Cooper, who is also chair of the Cannabis & Psychedelics Practice Group at Falcon Rappaport & Berkman.
Cooper continued, “The so-called war on drugs has been particularly hard on minority and low-income communities, and although studies show white, brown, and Black people use cannabis equally, Black and brown people were nearly four times as likely to be arrested for cannabis violations. Despite laws designed to assist these communities, the individuals affected most are also least able to benefit due to a lack of access to information and support. The Expungement Clinics at 420 Expo are intended to provide the kind of meaningful access to information otherwise sorely lacking in society.”
Their plans “will provide access to legitimate support that can help people take advantage of their legal rights and make huge steps in achieving their social justice,” said Davis, who is co-founder of 420 Expo. The convention will host Cheech Marin and a lineup of education events and vendors. “We are thrilled to bring this type of necessary social support to our three-day cannabis celebration,” Davis said.
420 Expo will include VIP meet and greets with Marin as well as guest appearances by other cannabis-related celebrities and more than 20 seminars and panels appealing to both casual and experienced cannabis enthusiasts. The event will also feature product demonstrations, gaming areas, contests, glass blowing and axe throwing. Outdoors, there will be a large smoking section in addition to a variety of food trucks.
While THC products will not be sold at 420 Expo, attendees may bring the legal limit for personal use under state law, according to organizers.
420 Expo will be open 5 to 11 p.m. on Sept. 29, noon to 9 p.m. Sept. 30 and noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 1. For more information or to purchase advance tickets to this 21-plus event, visit 420Expo.com.
New Jersey’s Cannabis Expungement Provisions
The Marijuana Decriminalization Law took effect July 1, 2021, and requires the expungement of certain cannabis and hashish cases. As a result, the Supreme Court has ordered that thousands of cases be expunged.
People in New Jersey with low-level cannabis cases can apply for expungement, including those convicted of distribution of cannabis less than one ounce or hashish less than five grams. possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, or more than five grams of hashish.
If the case included only one of the above offenses and any of the below offenses, it was expunged: Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Use or Being Under Influence of Controlled, Dangerous Substance, and Failure to Make Lawful Disposition of Controlled, Dangerous Substance.
New Jersey’s legislation does not require that every cannabis-related charge be expunged. If you have questions about your specific case, ask an attorney at the convention or Legal Services of New Jersey. You can go to the court where your case was heard to confirm that your record was cleared and receive a certification. Find more details in Directive #24-21.
Expungement means the cannabis crimes are no longer part of your record, and it won’t end up on a job application, housing application, or college application. The case has been removed from the public record and cannot be used to keep you from school, housing, or most jobs.