Residents of Nevada with a criminal history due to minor marijuana convictions may have a brighter future ahead of them. A recently introduced bill proposes that those who were found guilty of use or possession of marijuana in amounts that are now legal would be eligible to have the prior convictions eliminated from their criminal record. The new bill also proposes the removal of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses.
As of Jan. 1, 2017, it is no longer illegal in Nevada to possess or use one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana concentrates or one ounce or less of marijuana flower, even for recreational use. The new bill proposes that those convicted in the past of using or possessing marijuana in the amounts that are now legal should not be stuck with this criminal history on their records. Those who would most benefit are Nevadans convicted perhaps decades ago who may no longer even use marijuana but still have the crimes on their record, potentially interfering with employment opportunities.
Additionally, under the proposed bill, any Nevada prison inmates who were convicted on drug charges that did not additionally involve possession of weapons or physical altercations would be eligible for early release. As recently as 1997, marijuana possession was a felony that could potentially result in up to 15 years of prison time for those convicted. Federal statistics indicate an increase of 77 percent in arrests for selling drugs since 1980, and point to this as blame for the overcrowding of prison facilities. As part of the new bill, substance abuse treatment would be an alternative to the current mandatory prison sentences for drug offenders.
The bill does not cover those convicted of selling marijuana or of transporting the drug across state lines, which are both still illegal. Additionally, anyone in Nevada found by police to be in possession of amounts over the legal limit will still be subject to criminal charges. Those facing such drug charges may wish to consult an experienced attorney to discuss defense strategies and the changing laws surrounding the issue.
Source: lasvegassun.com, “Pot offenders would have convictions wiped clean under new bill“, Chris Kudialis, March 15, 2017