Nevada lawmakers consider sealing low-level pot convictions

March 19, 2019

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Law enforcement organizations on Tuesday expressed support for legislation that seeks to streamline the sealing of low-level marijuana convictions.

Democratic Assemblyman William McCurdy II told lawmakers the legislation would help people with those convictions gain employment, remove the stigma of a criminal past and clear the pathway to voting.

“The reward is allowing those folks, who have maybe made a (mistake) in the past, to move forward with their lives,” he said at a hearing on the bill. The committee ended its meeting without a vote.

The bill also would permit a person to request a court seal criminal records tied to any offense that is decriminalized. It also says there should be no fee to seek the sealing of records.

Supporters say low-level marijuana convictions can currently be sealed, but the process is arduous and expensive.

Democratic Assemblyman Steve Yeager said there’s a need for records to be sealed, recalling that he found 400 people waiting at a record-sealing clinic a year ago. Yeager said he and former state senator were only able to help two people during about eight hours at the clinic.

A representative for the Nevada District Attorneys Association spoke in support of the bill, along with a lobbyist for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Assemblyman Chris Edwards, a Republican, aired concerns that businesses will face an undue risk by not being able to see a person’s past convictions.

“I don’t know if we’ve put enough thought into all the consequences yet, and we may need to limit what you’re trying to accomplish here,” he said.