Just weeks after Oregon legalized marijuana for recreational use, the State Senate has passed a bill that would retroactively expunge criminal records of people who have been convicted of possession, delivery or manufacture of marijuana.

As many as 50,000 people stand to benefit if Oregon Governor Kate Brown signs the bill into law – which she is expected to do, Fusion reports. Washington D.C. lawmakers unanimously passed similar legislation after legalizing recreational marijuana use in the district last year.

Why is expungement important for pot convictions?

Expunge Center explains:

“It really doesn’t matter if you had been arrested on a petty charge. The stigma of having an arrest or conviction record against your name can make it difficult for you to find housing, seek employment opportunities and obtain grants for school…. Regardless of how much you have changed or how many dreams you might have, one single mistake of your past can affect your chances of having a good future.”

U.S. law provides no provisions for retroactively expunging criminal records after something that was formerly illegal become legal. Oregon would be the first state to pass such legislation.

Under proposed Senate Bill 844, people convicted or adjudicated solely on marijuana crimes or acts – not counting motor vehicle violations – would be eligible for an order of expunction.

If Gov. Brown signs off on it, the new law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.

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