BUFFALO, N.Y. — A series of clinics are being held in Buffalo to help Erie County residents who want to learn how to expunge or reduce marijuana-related convictions on their criminal record.
On Thursday, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn was joined by other legal and support services to announce two of the upcoming clinics.
The first will be held Thursday, Aug. 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the second will be Saturday, Sept. 24 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Elim Christian Fellowship on 70 Chalmers Ave. in Buffalo. These sessions will be free for residents of Erie County.
The goal of these workshops is to inform people about eligibility and so people can take steps to remove these convictions from their records. Legal experts will be at the information sessions to help people through the expungement process.
“Now that New York State has legalized recreational cannabis, we must act on behalf of the people whose lives have been unfairly impacted by a marijuana-related conviction on their criminal record. In particular, African Americans have been disproportionally impacted by the criminalization of cannabis, which has hindered their pursuit of certain opportunities in life. I hope to give a fresh start to our citizens who have been living with these criminal convictions by offering legal support to expedite the expungement or reduction process,” Flynn said in a press release.
Even a low-level marijuana-related conviction can affect a person's access to education, housing and employment.
'“Expungement of marijuana-related convictions is a step towards righting one of the many injustices suffered by members of disadvantaged communities in our city. Expungement gives people the ability to apply for employment, schooling, and housing without having a marihuana conviction negatively affect the better future they are hoping to achieve. Allowing people access to realizing dreams results in a better and more prosperous society for everyone. The Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo thanks all the participants who are working towards this worthy project,” said Sarah Ryan of the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc in a press release.