Clarksdale mayor calls on courts to expunge misdemeanor marijuana charges

CLARKSDALE, Miss. — A Mid-South mayor said African American men are being unfairly targeted for marijuana charges.

Now he wants to give people charged with the misdemeanor a second chance.

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But as FOX13 found out, not everyone in town is a fan.

Clarksdale Mayor Chuck Espy said after looking at numbers from the city’s second chance program, he is calling for things to change. He wants the courts to expunge misdemeanor marijuana charges.

“After extensive research through our second chance program, we started to see a large disparity between 17 to 30-year-old African American males in Clarksdale,” Espy said.

The mayor said that no matter what the city decides to do it will be within state and federal laws.

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“So in the city of Clarksdale what we are trying to do is to mitigate the level of misdemeanors to make it more fair to an economic class that has been hit the hardest,” Espy said.

Not everyone in city leadership is in favor of the idea.

“I am in opposition to it because I am a huge fan of the rule of law and it makes everyone equal, and we all need to abide by the same rules, and if the law is on the books it needs to be enforced,” said Ken Murphey, Clarksdale City Commissioner. “It doesn’t matter who that person is.”

Both Murphey and the mayor told us things are just being discussed for now.

“At this moment it’s just up for discussion, and if it does make it further and it does come up for discussion it would probably be a no vote on this; a definite no vote on this,” Murphey said.

Espy said marijuana laws, both medicinal and recreational, are being relaxed around the country and Clarksdale needs to do what it can to lessen the impact of charges on people’s credit and job possibilities.