Some of the more recent states to legalize recreational marijuana, such as California and Illinois, also wrote into their laws that those who had previously been convicted for possessing marijuana would be able to apply to have their records expunged. Marijuana convictions disproportionately affect people of color, and they have had to live with the collateral consequences of that conviction. This has meant hundreds of thousands of people of color have been denied housing, employment, and financial aid all because of a minor offense.
But even in these progressive states where convictions can be expunged, the burden of doing so falls on the person convicted. Expunging a record is not only confusing, but it can be time consuming and expensive. But now there's “an app for that,” as the kids like to say.
Code for America
Code for America is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that is dedicated to building open-source applications that promote efficiency and openness in county, state, and federal governments. When California passed Proposition 64 to legalize recreational marijuana, one of Code for America's senior programmers came up with the idea of developing an algorithm that would help identify who would be eligible to qualify to have their records expunged. This technology was named Clear My Record.
Since the pilot program of using the algorithm launched a year and a half ago, California has dismissed or reduced 85,000 marijuana convictions. Of those, 66,000 were in Los Angeles County alone. All counties in California will now have access to Clear My Record based on its success in the five pilot counties that tested it.
Expanding to Illinois
Illinois is also using the Clear My Record technology. Recreational marijuana became legal in Illinois on January 1, 2020, and 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.'” Clear My Record will automate the process for identifying those who were convicted of possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana. Officials in Illinois estimate there could be up to 770,000 cases eligible to be overturned, with the majority of those being in Cook County, where Chicago is.
Experienced Legal Counsel for Drug Possession
Attorney Steve Karimi provides effective legal representation for clients across Washington. He has many years defending against allegations that involve misdemeanor marijuana possession. If you or a loved one have a conviction record that you would like to expunge, contact his office today for a consultation at 206-621-8777.
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