4-20: House passes bill to make old cannabis convictions invisible on court records

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HB 246, a bill that would restrict the release of marijuana conviction records of people that occurred before Alaska laws were loosened, was passed by the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The bill, now heading to the Senate, would make confidential the records of individuals who have been convicted of minor marijuana crimes, so long as they were not convicted of any other crimes in the same incident. Their pot records would automatically be removed from Court View, the online database for criminal and civil court proceedings. The records would also be removed from some background checks administered by the Department of Public Safety, if requested by the convicted individual.

Alaskans voted in 2014 to legalize the cultivation, sale, and possession of marijuana for those 21 years old or older. Despite this change in state law, some Alaskans remain blocked from employment and housing due to previous marijuana possession convictions that would not be a crime today.

According to a report prepared by Legislative Research, there were more than 700 Alaskans convicted of low-level marijuana crimes between 2007 and 2017. Those convictions can make obtaining housing and gainful employment challenging.

The legislation would allow those previously convicted to move on with their lives.

The bill passed 30-8, with pundits in the Capitol noting that the bill had been delayed since being referred to Rules Committee, not appearing on the House floor unit April 20, or 4-20, a date known by cannabis users as a time to imbibe and celebrate.

19 COMMENTS

  1. I am sorry, but the law was broken at the time and the person knew they were breaking the law. So how many of our laws are going to change and will no longer be applicable to those who committed a crime. Sounds like if Ketanji Jackson has her way it will be pedophilia.

    • Sally, if we, as a state, determine the original law that was broken was an unconstitutional, or unjust, law, then it makes sense to remove the records. Moreover, it is actually your responsibility as a patriot to resist unconstitutional laws rather than conform to them. Recall, if you aided and abetted Jewish people in 1940 in Nazi Germany you would have been viewed as a criminal. Times change. Corrections are made and records corrected. Should we have not provided reparations to Japanese Americans for their wrongful internment during WWII?

  2. The names to be hidden allegedly broke laws that were in effect. Employers are sometimes interested in whether an applicant has a history of abiding by laws.

  3. That’s a mistake. Why only limit it to cannabis law breakers and convicts? Opening a Pandora’s Box with this issue!

    • Precisely–they are indeed innocent. If a black man was convicted of drinking from a “whites-only” drinking fountain in 1963 then his criminal record should rightfully be expunged. Many unconstitutional laws, including marijuana possession, have been stricken. Those who resisted them should not be viewed as criminals but rather patriots resisting tyranny unjustly set upon them.
      .
      For the record, I believe marijuana primarily makes the user stupid and lazy and undermines our culture. However, a clear reading of our constitution reveals gives us the liberty to be foolish as long as we do not infringe upon the liberty of others.

    • Hey, Trig. No they are not innocent — contrary to what Cooganalaska says. What this House Bill does is remove from Court View the “minor” marijuana cases of 18, 19 and 20 year olds that occurred when marijuana was illegal in Alaska. That means that if these people in that age group were convicted of the charge regarding marijuana possession back when it was illegal, they are still guilty of that charge. However, if you were to search for that case in Alaska Court View, it would not show up. So it keeps future employers and landlords from checking a person’s background for that age group and seeing ALL criminal charges that have been made against them, if any.

  4. When you break a law, it really should not matter if the law is later abolished. Your record shows that you were willing to knowingly break a law and that, reflects on a persons character.

  5. Lawlessness. Start scrubbing records it’ll only lead to more purging the system. The potheads knew what they did was wrong. No one forced them to do something illegal. They did it out of rebellion. Since
    marajauna has been made legal, that should be enough, now they can do their bad habit without fearing arrest. They still
    guilty. what they did it was against the law and wrong. Pot business owners, what good do they do for the community. Some business
    owners products are beneficial to families bringing them together making goodlasting memories, pot shop owners destroy lives with stoned out relatives to show their profit.

    • Jen, be careful as you characterize rebellion; never forget, our republic itself was born of it. Your civil rights were born of it. Rebellion is in the DNA of America. We all benefit greatly from it.

  6. Good! I think most would agree that it’s pretty absurd to continue to punish someone for doing something that is no longer illegal.

      • We all break laws every day; it’s impossible to avoid in our overcriminalized society. For example, most people driving on the Glenn exceed the posted speed limit (thereby breaking a law), yet I don’t draw conclusions about those drivers’ character.

        In any case, I think it is downright hypocritical and cruel to continue to punish someone (by way of a felony record and all of the associated effects of such record) for an activity which, today, is perfectly legal. A free society punishes conduct, not mere disobedience, and if a particular conduct is no longer punishable then it should no longer be punished.

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