As one method of empowering disproportionately disenfranchised communities, Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes’ office is collaborating with several community partners, including Daemen’s Paralegal Studies Department this spring. Peoples-Stokes recently announced that she will host Western New York’s inaugural marijuana expungement clinics with support from legal community partners, including Daemen.
The 2019 Marijuana Expungement bill (A.8420-A) allows for the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana and expunges the records of those with low-level conviction records. The paralegal studies department is joined by the University at Buffalo Law Alumni Association, University at Buffalo School of Law, Neighborhood Legal Services, Legal Aid of Buffalo, Minority Bar Foundation, Center for Elder Law and Justice, as well as local attorneys and paralegals, to help execute the upcoming marijuana expungement clinics in April.
It has been estimated that there are roughly 5,000 residents in the City of Buffalo impacted by these convictions. Each person who pre-registers for a session will have the opportunity to be a “client for the day,” sitting down with a licensed attorney to be briefed on the law’s benefits and to gain guidance to make an informed decision on whether to apply for the destruction of said records.
The marijuana expungement clinics will take place on Saturday, April 10 and April 24 at Gerard Place in Buffalo and Thursday, April 22, at the Buffalo and Erie County Central Library in Buffalo.
Peoples-Stokes said, “I’m proud to be able to bring this service to City of Buffalo residents and would like to thank all of our legal partners for making these clinics possible. Each individual’s case and circumstances are unique, so it’s important that everyone be informed of their rights under this law because they should have the opportunity to decide whether having their marijuana conviction records destroyed is the right call for them.”
Margaret Phillips, J.D., associate professor and director of Daemen’s paralegal studies program, said, “Daemen is excited for this important collaborative opportunity to partner with the Western New York legal community and Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes. This effort is meaningful as it will potentially have a life changing impact on people and is a significant way that higher education can assist. The paralegal studies program is grateful for this opportunity to give back to our community.”