News10NBC caught up with Rochester community member Kent Kroemer. He said he was there to get information for himself and one of his good friends. They both share similar experiences with marijuana convictions.
“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 was one of many who were downtown over the weekend to check their eligibility and 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.
Kroemer said he knows how difficult it was for his friend to snag a job after serving time. He admitted that it was also hard for himself to move on at one point, and to this day, and that still lingers for him.
“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.
“It was great, they were over there explaining the information on how to get everything expunged,” Kroemer said.
Cooney said that he wants Rochester to be part of the solution, and part of that means helping people start their own marijuana business.