The ‘Strange Bedfellows’ In Congress Want To Scrub Nonviolent Marijuana Records

The 'Clean Slate Act' could open job opportunities for past convicts.

Congress Passes Bill That Gives Terminally Ill Patients Access To Marijuana
Photo by DawitTibebu via Pixabay

Kim Kardashian West made waves earlier this year by successfully advocating Donald Trump to pardon Alice Johnson, a nonviolent drug convict. The President commuted the 63-year-old’s life sentence and Kardashian has since continue her activism to grant clemency for other nonviolent drug offenders. The celebrity’s work has in part pushed members of Congress to do the same.

Though partisan only seems to further fester in Washington, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) has teamed with Freedom Caucus Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) to introduce federal legislation that would seal the records of non-violent cannabis offenders if they remain crime-free on year after completing their prison sentences. Joining Blunt Rochester is around 20 of her Congressional Black Caucus associates.

Even more surprising is who will back the “Clean Slate Act.” The criminal justice reform bill has backers from two forces typically on the opposite side of the political spectrum: the Koch Brothers’ advocacy group FreedomWorks and the Center for American Progress. In an interview with CBS News, Blunt Rochester labeled a name for the unlikely cohort, the “Strange Bedfellows.”

“We have people who are at the extremes almost of the continuum,” Blunt Rochester said, “And I think that’s an unusual thing especially in today’s [political] climate.”

Blum also told CBS News that “Folks want bipartisanship,” and considers the “Clean Slate Act” to be “common-sense” legislation. “For people that are against this, I suggest they tour prisons,” Blum added.

If the bill passes, it could substantially open job and workplace opportunities for those with criminal records due to their past marijuana convictions. The only current way to scrub records clean at the federal level is through the Trump administration’s direct say-so. Of course with Attorney General Jeff Sessions still residing in that administration, a man who rolled back the Cole memo and very much opposes cannabis legalization, betting on Trump probably isn’t the safest bet.

“I personally think the attorney general’s position on, for example, marijuana is—he’s a bit out of step,” Blum said.

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