Senate marijuana bill to address people with prior possession convictions

An amendment in the Senate's pot bill that would erase criminal records for non-violent marijuana offenses.

BOSTON (WWLP) –¬†Massachusetts residents told 22News that people of color were disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement. Now they want equity in the new legal industry.

Recreational marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, but residents arrested for prior pot possession still have a mark on their criminal record. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, black individuals were arrested for marijuana convictions nearly four times more than whites in Massachusetts.

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Residents are calling on lawmakers to addresses racial disparities in the marijuana industry. The Senate approved an amendment in their pot bill that would erase criminal records for non-violent marijuana offenses, convictions that minority advocates like Shanel Lindsay told 22News could bar some from getting licenses in the legal market.

“In our medical system if you have a felony, you can’t have a medical license,” Lindsay explained. “We cannot allow that inequity to come into the new adult use system.”

The House bill also includes a measure aimed at licensing and employing minorities in the industry.