I’m very happy to see that California is doing marijuana legalization the right way, not just making the recreational use legal but also providing a way for those convicted of past offenses involving that drug to be expunged from their records. That affects a massive number of people.
The new law, Prop 64, not only OK’d possession for people 21 and older but also allows anyone to apply to have their past marijuana-related offenses reduced or expunged completely. And roughly one million Californians are eligible, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.
A clean record would allow people to vote, apply for many loans and licenses, and, perhaps most importantly, answer “no” when potential employers ask whether they have a felony in their past. The change particularly affects African-Americans in California, who were five times as likely to get arrested for a marijuana felony than white offenders, and thus disproportionately saddled with the lifelong constraints that come with a criminal record.
This is hugely important and we can only hope it will be adopted nationwide at some point soon. And it’s something that conservatives should be in favor of as well. If you really want people to become self-sufficient and you really want to strengthen families, this is a huge help in both of those areas. First, you’re no longer breaking up families by putting (mostly) fathers in prison. Second, you’re no longer locking them out from getting financial aid for higher education or public housing. Third, you’re making it much easier for them to find a job so they can support their families.