Los Angeles County Wipes Out Cannabis Convictions
[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]L[/dropcap]os Angeles County officials in Southern California plan to use technology to get rid of as many as 66,000 cannabis convictions.
According to The Associated Press, city officials are working with an organization called Code for America to find old cannabis cases that are eligible to be wiped using an algorithm. The Clear My Record technology is offered free by the group, who are a nonprofit organization. “The dismissal of tens of thousands of old cannabis-related convictions in Los Angeles County will bring much-needed relief to communities of color that disproportionately suffered the unjust consequences of our nation’s drug laws,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement.
So far, the demographic of people whose crimes are being cleared includes 32 percent black, 20 percent white, 45 percent Latinx and three percent unknown. After these cases are dismissed, Code for America will have helped dismiss more than 85,000 cannabis convictions in five California counties including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Contra Costa. “This is a clear demonstration that automatic record clearance is possible at scale and can help to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs,” said Evonne Silva, Code for America’s Senior Program Director of Criminal Justice.
In addition to finding the cases, the program fills out forms to file with the courts. It can work on the cases of up to 10,000 people per minute, much faster than the process it would take for humans to do the same work. Once the cases are identified, district attorneys have until July to decide whether the cases will be dismissed.
California’s legal cannabis industry is struggling, but there are small victories to celebrate as well. Some areas are considering social consumption lounges, and officials are working on systems to better regulate the illegal market.