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LA Teams Up With Tech Group To Clear Weed Convictions

REUTERS/Blair Gable

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Grace Carr Reporter
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Los Angeles prosecutors have partnered with a tech company to help ex-convicts become free of marijuana charges that no longer stand under state law.

LA-based attorneys and attorneys from nearby districts are working with tech nonprofit “Code for America” to aid those who face old marijuana convictions. Code for America developed an algorithm that speedily identifies persons who are eligible to have their marijuana convictions dropped following a change in California law allowing adults to legally possess and use the drug recreationally. The algorithm identifies and automatically fills out forms that convicts can file with state court, The Associated Press reported.

Code for America is a “network of people making government work for the people, by the people, in the digital age,” according to its website. The group develops technology to help in the criminal justice, social services, and workforce sectors.

California legalized recreational marijuana use for persons 21 years old and above in 2016. The state also voted to erase or reduce marijuana related criminal convictions, according to The AP.

Following the state’s law change, however, clearing pot-related charges remained difficult, as convicts were required to file petitions on their own in order to get their records amended. Only 23 people hired attorneys to help them, according to The AP.

The non-profit’s algorithm has the potential to change the game, according to Code for America executive director Jennifer Pahlka. “Clear My Record changes the scale and speed of justice and has the potential to ignite change across the state and the nation,” Pahlka said, The AP reported.

“When we do this right, we show that government can make good on its promises, especially for the hundreds of thousands who have been denied jobs, housing and other opportunities despite the passage of laws intended to provide relief,” Pahlka added.

Macro of marijuana with trichomes and crushed weed in a grinder for chopping a canapis on a black table clouse up (Shutterstock/Lifestyle discover)

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon also applauded the team effort and announced that over 9,000 convictions going back 1975 will be reduced or cleared thanks to the algorithm, The AP reported. (RELATED: Here’s How Marijuana Did At The Polls)

“This collaboration will improve people’s lives by erasing the mistakes of their past and hopefully lead them on a path to a better future,” LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said Monday, according to The AP.

California’s San Joaquin County will also join with Code for America to reduce or erase roughly 4,000 previous convictions, The AP reported.

The algorithm’s development comes after Michigan, Missouri and Utah loosened state restrictions on marijuana at the 2018 midterms.

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