CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has found the City of Cleveland just had to back off a big promise to clear the records of thousands of people caught with a small amount of pot.
Turns out, city hall can’t do that.
Back in April, the mayor made a splash promising new justice, but we’ve learned that the law got in the way.
Days ago, the city filed piles of new paperwork cancelling out the boxes of documents delivered by city officials, including Mayor Justin Bibb.
The mayor announced steps to clear the records of thousands of people busted for small amounts of marijuana. They wanted to expunge, or wipe out, those convictions.
But, the city can’t do that for you. The law says if you want to try to get an old conviction expunged, you have to ask the court. You have to take that step yourself.
Months ago, Michelle Earley, the administrative judge of the Cleveland Municipal Court, spoke to the I-Team raising questions about how the city was trying to make this happen.
“It can’t be done all at once,” Judge Earley said,
In fact, the court even added a place on its website to help people apply individually.
While the city has failed to make thousands of old convictions disappear, the city did tell the court it would not be prosecuting a lot of marijuana cases still moving the system.
With that, 830 pending cases have now been thrown out. Those have been described as misdemeanor, non-violent marijuana cases.
The mayor’s office issued the following statement to the I-Team:
“The city has reached out to every affected citizen to provide them with information to expunge and to invite them to an expungement clinic.
“The City of Cleveland is actively working to still address the criminalization of minor misdemeanor marijuana as this is the way to promote the equitable administration of criminal justice. As such, the City of Cleveland will endeavor to attend various community events where other organizations are addressing issues of expungement and marijuana.
“One such event is being held on October 21, 2022 and sponsored by the Northern Ohio Recovery Association.
“The City will continue its efforts for common sense marijuana laws.”
At the Fli-High Smoke Shop on the west side, it’s no surprise to hear of confusion over something to do with marijuana.
“We get a lot of questions every day about it. If we sell it, if we have it, if we have anything we can help,” Mohammad Hammad said.
He looks forward to the end of confusion about marijuana in the courts.
“If they have a little bit of it, I don’t see that as a big deal. They’re waiting for the City to legalize it,” Hammad said.