Gradual change is coming to the state of Alaska. On May 1, the Alaska Court System will erase the criminal records of adults over the age of 21 who have been convicted of possessing less than one ounce of cannabis. According to a report from James Brooks of the Alaska Beacon, this decision will benefit approximately 750 people.
“Given that [marijuana] has been legal for eight years, it appeared to the Supreme Court that this was an appropriate time not to have people, as I say, suffer the negative consequences that can stem from having your name posted on Courtview. Because the conduct is considered legal right now,” Alaska Court System General Counsel Nancy Meade said.
Despite the action taken by the Alaska Court System, cannabis conviction records will still be available through formal background checks. Just last year, a bill that would conceal cannabis-related convictions from criminal background checks was passed by the state’s House of Representatives. However, it ultimately failed to pass through the Alaska Senate. Earlier this year, Rep. Stanley Wright of Anchorage reintroduced the bill with the support of five Democrats and one independent. Additionally, Sen. Löki Tobin has expressed an interest in developing a bill of her own.
“A lot of folks in my district, they have these barriers that are put in place, and a simple rule change, policy change, legislation, could change it for their entire lives,” Wright said.