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Seattle Will Expunge Cannabis Arrests Prior to Legalization

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The city of Seattle will begin expunging the arrest records of all people arrested for cannabis prior to legalization, joining San Francisco and Spokane. This will surely go a long way towards correcting some of the mistakes of the failed war on drugs, as well as improve the lives of the many people affected by the policies of the drug war.

The decision was announced Thursday in a press conference with Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes. They announced that the city would be vacating the records of anyone convicted of a misdemeanor cannabis offense, prior to when the state of Washington legalized adult use cannabis in 2012.

This policy will be most beneficial to minorities, who were far more likely to be arrested for cannabis than whites. Data from the Drug Policy Alliance shows that despite consisting of only 14% of the population, minority arrests consisted of 25% of all cannabis arrests in the state of Washington. Residents don’t need to do anything either. The city attorney’s office will do all of the work.

Durkan said to reporters: 

I can’t emphasize enough how much a conviction affects a person’s life the moment it happens. Almost every application they do for a job or for housing will ask, ‘Have you ever been convicted of a crime?’ It really forecloses opportunities: everything from jobs, to education, to being a part of who we are as a society. And so while we cannot reverse all the harm that was done, we can give back to those people a record that says they were not convicted, because that is the more just thing to do.

This is a huge step towards righting some of the wrongs that have come of the drug war and allowing the people most affected by its failed policies. Hopefully even more cities and states follow suit.

Source: Seattle Weekly

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