In the coming days, lawmakers are expected to vote on providing relief for Californians saddled with harmful cannabis-related criminal histories. Under Assembly Bill 1793, any adult who was convicted of a marijuana offense that is no longer illegal would have their conviction erased automatically. This is a huge step forward to repairing decades of harmful policy.
Marijuana prohibition has harmed hundreds of thousands of individuals who now have cannabis convictions. This can limit career, educational, and housing opportunities. Since voters approved Prop. 64 in 2016, Californians have been able to petition to expunge (remove) these prior convictions, but the process can be costly and burdensome. And many don’t realize it’s an option.
AB 1793 would make the process automatic. It would direct the state Department of Justice to review the state’s criminal database and identify convictions that could be dismissed, downgraded, or simply expunged, and take the steps needed to make those changes.
To learn about the status of other cannabis reform bills in California, check out this East Bay Express article.
A Little Rock city director has proposed formally making misdemeanor marijuana offenses a “low priority” for city law enforcement officials. As Ward 2 City Director Ken Richardson highlighted, simple misdemeanor marijuana offenses can haunt an individual for life, making it harder to secure employment and higher education.
If you live in Little Rock, please contact your directors and ask that they support this commonsense reform. If you are unsure of your ward’s city director, please go here to find out which ward you live in. In addition to your ward director, be sure to also email the three at-large directors that represent the entire city. This proposal is a great step in the right direction and will help shape policies at the state level in Arkansas.
Unfortunately, Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner had issues with the wording of the proposal and claimed the police department already views misdemeanor marijuana offenses as a low priority. If this is true, City Director Richardson explains there is no harm in simply putting this policy in writing.
If you're a Little Rock resident, please take a few minutes to make sure the city directors know their constituents want Little Rock to make marijuana offenses a low enforcement priority. Then, please spread the word to others in Little Rock!