Why more Cities need to follow San Francisco and Seattle's example
With the tide swiftly changing in favor of cannabis legalization all over the world, there is something we can learn from the recent moves by the AG in San Francisco.
Under the Californian Cannabis law, anyone with a cannabis-related offence has the legal right to challenge the conviction and in most cases will have the ability to get their cannabis-related offenses expunged from their records.
What does this do?
Well, for starters, we know that a weed conviction can be detrimental to your future. From not being able to get a good job to the inability to get loans, having a record is infinitely worse than smoking marijuana by itself.
Understanding the history of cannabis prohibition, we understand the mechanism behind this – limit the competition within the labor market to ensure a certain population can continue to do the “shit jobs” of the US.
However, limiting competition within the labor force due to policy has detrimental effects on the nation. In many cases, it results in more crime due to the fact that the only lucrative opportunities for ex-offenders is more crime. This in turn, creates a cycle of people going in and out of jail and never having the ability to increase their income due to restrictive policies.
Despite the fact that the “expunge your records” clause has been active since the start of 2018, fewer than 5,000 people have applied to have their records reviewed.
Why is this?
Well, the average human being is not savvy when it comes to law. There are processes, paperwork and so forth, not to mention, many people are still unaware that this option exists. This means there are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people within California that still have an uphill battle when it comes to ‘fixing their lives’.
This is where San Francisco comes into play.
While in other cities, the citizen has to start the process…San Francisco started to systematically review all their cannabis convictions since the early 70s and will automatically expunge or seal the records of qualifying individuals.
What does that mean?
A qualifying individual would not have sold to anyone under the age of 21, does not have a violent crime attached to the conviction and so forth.
If this was adopted across the state of California, we’re talking about 1.5 million affected people. This could radically change their lives for the better as having even a misdemeanor offense can barre you from social programs such as food stamps and so on.
Why this is ABSOLUTELY necessary in every legal state
More than 20,000,000 people have been arrested for cannabis since the dawn of the Drug War with a heavy focus on minorities. We know that cannabis laws, are technically not constitutional and have a severe negative impact on communities of all colors.
If every state that legalizes cannabis undergoes the automatic process of clearing unjust convictions from the books, they will increase the likeliness of people lifting themselves out of impoverished situations.
While some might argue that this will only increase the odds of people wanting to go on welfare, I would argue differently. Nobody really feels great walking into the welfare office. Very few people actually want to be dependent on the government or someone else.
There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment of paying for your own stuff with your own labor. Entrepreneurs, with cannabis convictions, would be able to get loans to help start businesses, and as a result would create more employment opportunities for other individuals.
The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of benefits from simply wiping the slate clean once more.
Our current antiquated drug laws are tools of oppression. It limits the individual’s opportunities and type-casts them into a demographic that is heavily dependent on hand outs. By simply giving these oppressed group of people the opportunity to ‘make it on their own’ without any handicaps, would only serve as a positive effect on the rest of society.
Thus, I applaud the city of San Francisco on their proactive approach to this problem. When it comes to legal stuff, making things easier is the way to go. People tend to avoid legal procedures like the plague, and thus, as a city whose main objective is to “serve the people”, it’s a definite no-brainer.
I for one, hope that cities all over the US that have legal cannabis system in place, will begin to follow the example of San Francisco. Legalizing cannabis simply isn’t enough. We need to take proactive steps to undo the injustices that occurred under the drug war. The corrosive policy has created damage within the fabric of society…it’s our duty to correct the mistakes made by those who came before us.