Unfortunately in this country, marijuana convictions disproportionately affect people of color, and those who have been convicted of misdemeanor possession of marijuana have potentially had to deal with being discriminated against when it comes to applying for jobs, housing, and government assistance. African Americans are three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana as compared to whites.
The good news is that states like California that have legalized recreational marijuana, also wrote into their laws that people who were previously convicted for marijuana possession could apply to have their records expunged. The burden of doing so falls on the person convicted, and it can be time-consuming and confusing.
A recent experimental program in California was launched to help identify records that would be eligible for expungement. The program was not only quite successful in five major California counties, but it has now expanded to the rest of the state and to other states as well.
Code for America is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco. It is a coalition of volunteers who have backgrounds in technology, programming, and management. Code for America focuses on building open-source applications that promote efficiency and openness in county, state, and federal governments.
When California passed Proposition 64 to legalize recreational marijuana, a Code for America senior programmer developed an algorithm that could help identify those who would qualify to have their records expunged. This algorithm was then developed into a technology that was named Clear My Record.
The pilot program of Clear My Record launched a year and a half ago in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Contra Costa counties. Since then, 85,000 marijuana convictions have been reduced or dismissed. Of those, 66,000 were in Los Angeles County alone. The algorithm can analyze the eligibility of thousands of records in mere seconds, which saves time and resources of District Attorney staff members.
Expanding Out of State
On January 1, 2020, recreational marijuana became legal in Illinois. State Attorney Kim Foxx said that collaborating with Code for America to expunge Illinois residents convicted of marijuana possession would “atone for prosecutors' role in an overzealous ‘war on drugs.'” Illinois officials estimate there could be up to 770,000 cases eligible to be overturned, with the majority of those being in Cook County (home to Chicago).
Experienced California Defense
While it is true that there is a drug abuse problem in this country, many marijuana convictions have crowded our jails and clogged up our courts. A drug conviction can be a stain on your life and have serious consequences. Rather than becoming another statistic, you need a reliable and experienced California criminal defense attorney who will fight for you and work hard to get the charges against you either reduced or even dismissed altogether. Contact the Sigal Law Group today to get started on learning how you can defend your case.