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On the eve of its first retail pot sale, Connecticut highlights erasure of cannabis convictions

Office of Governor Ned Lamont

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont highlighted the erasure of thousands of low-level cannabis convictions on the eve of the state’s legal retail sales of marijuana. The state's Clean Slate law took effect at the beginning of the month.

The law will help provide social equity for people from the state’s Black and Brown communities who were deprived of opportunities because of the war on drugs, Lamont said.

"Forty-four thousand folks are going to have ... one less barrier to overcome in order to get back on their feet," he said. “One less barrier to overcome in order to get that home that is just a foundation to be able to get back on your feet.”

The erasure affects convictions for possession of less than 4 ounces of cannabis between January 2000 and September 2015.

“To have tens of thousands of people have their criminal records erased is huge, because it means that those families now have many more opportunities,” said Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz.

Justice reform groups have criticized the law for not going far enough. They say it covers only a sixth of the people who should have their convictions erased, potentially undermining the racial and economic justice impact of the legalization of cannabis.

The first sales of marijuana begin Tuesday at nine dispensaries in the state.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.