What is the Fresh Start Act and why should you care?

IMG_0606

If you look at the War on Drugs, you can see that it has failed. Many people have been imprisoned and have had their lives ruined due to the laws around marijuana prohibition, not to mention the taxpayer money that has been wasted on the cause. If Issue 3 were to pass in November, most of the crimes that are related to marijuana and marijuana prohibition will no longer be illegal in the state of Ohio.

This November, Ohio voters will have the opportunity to vote for the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. Many citizens are wondering if the constitutional amendment, called Issue 3, were to pass what would happen to the people who were previously charged with marijuana convictions? That’s where the Fresh Start Act comes in.

The Fresh Start Act is a proposed statute that calls for expunging the criminal record of anybody who has past marijuana convictions if the drug becomes legal in Ohio. This statute has been certified by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine this past summer. Today we’re going to look into what The Fresh Start Act is and why ResponsibleOhio launched this initiative.

ResponsibleOhio says that “expungement is the right thing to do” for the people who have suffered from these previous offenses that will no longer be illegal. What the Fresh Start Act does is gives people who have been convicted of marijuana related crimes the opportunity to have more options available to them.

Why expungement? Expungements allow the records of applicable convictions to be “permanently irretrievable”, meaning no one would be able to hold these charges against those who receive an expungement. Technically speaking, expunged charges shouldn’t even come up on a background check.

Some say to seal the records of those with past convictions, but sealed records are not deleted from someone’s record and they can be accessed by many people including law enforcement, some banks, and employers. Expunged records do not exist and can’t be seen or held against someone who has previously be charged.

The petition that proposed the Fresh Start Act had everything the Attorney General’s office needed for certification, including 1,000 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters and a fair and truthful summary of the law being proposed. Now, the Ohio Ballot Board must review the statute to see if the proposal includes a single law or is actually multiple laws.

The Fresh Start Act still has a long way to go. ResponsibleOhio will need to collect signatures for each law being proposed from registered voters in half of Ohio’s counties. If you have the opportunity to sign this petition you have the chance to make a difference in someone’s life, possibly changing it forever. If you or someone you know has been convicted of a marijuana related crime, the Fresh Start Act can help them rebuild the life they were meant to live.