By voting to erase past misdemeanor marijuana convictions, Washington has joined several other states and large cities/regions that are taking a different look at the criminality of cannabis.

The following is a re-post of an article written by the Associated Press (via Seattle Times)

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SEATTLE — Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill aimed at erasing old misdemeanor marijuana convictions, seven years after voters in the state approved an initiative that legalized the drug.

Under the new law signed Monday judges are required to grant requests to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession charges that occurred before the drug was legalized, provided the defendant was 21 at the time.

The measure goes further than an earlier marijuana pardon process announced by Inslee, which had stricter eligibility requirements.

Advocates say a prior misdemeanor conviction can be a major barrier for individuals who are trying to acquire housing and employment. In addition it is part of a system of barriers that can make it difficult for people with even minor crimes to escape a cycle of joblessness and housing issues.

But critics say an earlier act of lawbreaking is still fundamentally criminal even if a law later changes.

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