Alaska Considers Sealing Cannabis Convictions

Alaska Considers Sealing Cannabis Convictions

Pixabay / Counselling / CC0 Creative Commons

Alaska residents with cannabis convictions on their records may get a second chance. On Jan. 31, 2018, Rep. Harriet Drummond introduced HB 316, a bill that would seek to seal public records pertaining to certain cannabis convictions.

Under the proposed measure, a person arrested for cannabis prior to Feb. 24, 2015, would be able to submit a written request to have the cannabis conviction sealed. If approved, the law would only apply to those arrested for acts that would be otherwise legal today, meaning that not every cannabis conviction would be sealed.

Supporters of the measure say that sealing cannabis convictions would help otherwise law abiding citizens overcome the marks on their record and make it easier for them to find work. Opponents of the measure believe that passing such a measure would set a bad precedent for the rule of law.

Speaking with KTUU, Drummond said that the measure is intended as a “cleanup” bill to address issues that should have been covered in the ballot initiative that legalized recreational cannabis in the state.

“This piece of the law was overlooked by the drafters of the initiative,” Drummond said. “And it’s been included in voter initiatives and laws that have passed in other states.”

Across the nation, other states that have legalized recreational cannabis have also considered similar measures. Most recently, San Francisco prosecutor George Gascon announced that he would dismiss 3,038 misdemeanor cannabis convictions.

In Alaska, HB 316 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee where it currently awaits review.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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