(WIVB) — The Erie County District Attorney’s office is teaching people how to remove or reduce marijuana-related convictions from their criminal record.

Under the law which legalized marijuana in New York State, certain related offenses would automatically be expunged in March of 2023. The DA’s office is helping people speed that process up.

“Individuals, especially African Americans, in the City of Buffalo can benefit from expungment,” said DA John Flynn. “They can benefit from reduction of their charges from a felony to a misdemeanor.”

The only problem: it could take up to two years before they could see a clean record, something Flynn said is a major issue for people trying to move their lives forward.

“Individuals who have a marijuana conviction want to join the military now, the don’t want to wait for two years. Individuals need a student loan now, not two years from now. Individuals want to get a job now,” Flynn said.

His office is now partnering with local public defenders to hold informational sessions where people with marijuana-related offenses can learn how to expunge their record or reduce their charges.

“Parties up here, we typically have competing interests,” said Kevin Stadelmaier of the Erie County Bar Association Assigned Legal Counsel Program. “District Attorney Flynn came forward, saw there was a need to fill a gap between what the state said should happen and what’s actually happening and get these expungements done much sooner.”

The public defenders will be on hand at the clinics to speak with people who have marijuana charges on their criminal record. They can talk about setting up a date for a motion, which Flynn said his office will send through right away.

“They already had their punishment for the crime, and the crime that they’ve committed is no longer a crime,” he said.

There are two clinics. The first is Thursday, August 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The second clinic will be Saturday, September 24 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Both of the informational sessions will be held at Elim Christian Fellowship on Chalmers Avenue in Buffalo.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.