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HB 3112 to expunge cannabis charges; back equitable business growth within the industry

PMG FILE PHOTO - Rep. Ricki RuizA bill is making its way through Salem that would work to undo past charges for the possession and distribution of cannabis, while paving the way for more minority-owned businesses to join the industry.

The Cannabis Social Equity Act — HB 3112 — was introduced earlier this week in Salem by a coalition of legislators, including Rep. Ricki Ruiz, D-Gresham, who is one of the chief sponsors.

The bill contains three major provisions — direct investment in cannabis businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and Latinx people; free automatic expungement of eligible cannabis criminal convictions paid for by cannabis tax revenue; and equity licenses for Black, Indigenous and Latinx-owned cannabis companies with reduced fees and modified requirements to initially qualify for a license.

"Less than 200 out of 28,000 Oregonians eligible for expungement were able to successfully complete the process in the past two years — we need to do better," Ruiz said. "This bill provides us the path and the funding we need to efficiently remove previous cannabis crimes from people's records and provide them the opportunity to repair their lives from the harm caused by cannabis criminalization."

The other chief sponsors of HB 3112 include Representatives Janelle Bynum, Mark Meek, Julie Fahey and Senators Lew Frederick and Kayse Jama. It was put together with input from cannabis companies.

"(This) is a critical step toward restoring the health of these individuals and the communities where they reside," Ruiz said.

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