Rochester holds marijuana record expungement clinic Saturday

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Dozens of people set out Parcel 5, for a marijuana record expungement clinic Saturday afternoon.

State Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D-56) hosted the event and said this is the first of many. He said, in the next year, state-level criminal convictions will be cleared from people’s records automatically.

Numerous community members turned out over the weekend, to check their eligibility to see if their state-level criminal convictions could be erased from their records.

Cooney said New York State passing legislation wasn’t just about legalizing marijuana, it was about social justice too.

"This is about rectifying the past wrongs, done from the war on drugs, so we know that all across New York State, and especially here in Monroe County. That it was communities of color that were disproportionately impacted of the enforcement of marijuana drug laws,” Cooney said in an interview.

One guest was Kent Kroemer, who’s struggling with the aftermath of his conviction for drugs other than marijuana.

He came to seek information for a friend whose pot charges date back years.

“My friend had a drug conviction when he was 19, it was a simple possession, and that’s still on his record,” Kroemer said.

Kroemer said a drug conviction can become a long-time handicap.

"When he first got out, he had trouble getting jobs," Kroemer said. "People being able to ask, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony before"? That’s a problem, I myself have been convicted of a drug felony before.”

Legal questions were answered for free. Providers like Just Cause, Law-NY, Legal Aid Society and Monroe County Public Defenders were on the ground helping anyone who needed it.

Kroemer said he felt comfortable talking about his experiences and encourages others to join the next event.

Cooney said that he wants Rochester to be part of the solution, and part of that means helping people start their own marijuana business.