Brent Staples explains in his op-ed piece in today’s New York Times what DC marijuana lawyers see every day. Arrests for small amounts of marijuana fill the courts with minor offenders who don’t belong there and wreak havoc with young lives.
Even when cases are dismissed, people arrested for marijuana can be shadowed by a criminal conviction for years, either because of reporting errors or because sealing of records is ineffective in an age of data mining. Once a marijuana charge is in the public domain, it stays there. You can’t un-ring the bell – as many young people looking for work, pursuing higher education, or obtaining citizenship are finding out.
It is remarkable that in DC, where political leaders are always talking about giving opportunities to young people, our punitive marijuana laws are quick to stigmatize young people with a criminal conviction.