Measure 91 Backers Join Bus Project in Campaign to Expunge Weed Convictions

The effort by Rep. Lew Frederick (D-Portland) to let Oregonians expunge marijuana convictions from their criminal records is gaining allies.

Backers of Measure 91, which voters passed to legalize recreational weed last November, have joined forces with the Bus Project, Portland's get-out-the vote nonprofit, to back Frederick's bill with a campaign called "Fresh Start Oregon."

"We built a powerful organization to legalize marijuana, and we plan to use it to make sure these bills are passed," Measure 91 chief sponsor Anthony Johnson said Wednesday in a statement. "Let's stop ruining lives by treating marijuana as a crime and start saving money by getting people out of jail and giving them a fresh start."

WW first reported in February that House Bill 3372 would allow people convicted of nonviolent marijuana crimes to expunge them from their criminal histories, and reduces sentences for people currently jailed for nonviolent weed crimes.

But nearly two months later, the bill hasn't been scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), who chairs the committee, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Since Frederick introduced his bill, the Senate has passed its own legislation on expunging pot crimes. Senate Bill 364 doesn't go as far as Frederick's bill. It requires courts to use the lower levels of criminal classification for weed offenses passed in 2013, when considering clearing the record of a person who committed those crimes before 2013.

Similar bills to expunge pot convictions are being considered in Washington, Maryland and Missouri.

Weekly newspaper Street Roots took a closer look at Frederick's proposal last week. It says the ramifications are unclear:

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