EXPUNGEMENT IS THE NEW OG
Earlier this year, San Francisco district attorney George Gascón announced that his office would be expediting the expungement of roughly 8,000 cannabis related convictions in his jurisdiction, effectively reducing or even totally erasing those detrimental marks from the permanent records of the fortunate residents who qualified.
Expungement is the new OG in cannabis reform. What began as a grassroots effort to ensure that the irony of corporations profiting off of the same plant that individuals have had their lives ruined over wasn’t being lost on politicians has flowered into a fundamental plank of everyone from frontline activists to presidential candidates.
A felony or misdemeanor cannabis conviction on one’s record can impact their lives in a number of ways – none of them good. Access to public or government subsidized housing could be jeopardized, custody disputes can be tilted, careers can be ended along with personal relationships. Double Jeopardy laws are supposed to protect us from being charged with the same crime twice, but for decades a cannabis-related conviction was a mark of shame that has been hard for many people to outrun.
Now, as talk of expungement crops up in major cities located in cannabis-friendly states, tens of thousands of Americans may have a new hope of receiving a clean slate after so many years.
The main hurdle to implementing these programs is basically twofold.
First, many of the people who could benefit from these programs have no idea that this sort of relief even exists.
Second, even if they do catch wind of such an opportunity, many of them don’t even know where to start the procedure. Most of us don’t have an attorney on speed dial. For too long, the process was intimidating, expensive, and drawn out to extreme lengths of time as this is still all very new to everyone involved.
That was why the mass expungement in San Fran this past February was so remarkable.
In a partnership with an innovative organization by the name of Code for America, the city’s DA was able to use a relatively basic computer algorithm to successfully and rapidly identify the 8,000 eligible residents.
It took roughly one year from when the city announced the partnership with Code for America and their intent to utilize the Clear My Record function on the non-profit platform for this purpose, but the February announcement of the program’s success also mentioned that it was done ahead of schedule and under budget – two rarities in any industry, but especially legal cannabis.
Once up and running with the blueprint now drawn, CFA’s algorithm can accurately diagnose thousands of criminal records for potential eligibility in a matter of minutes instead of weeks, months, or years under the current bureaucratic system.
EAZE DOES IT
Founded in 2014, the digital marijuana marketplace known as Eaze has skirted the line of legality in its homebase of California, successfully arguing that they don’t grow, extract, package, or test any cannabis, they just facilitate its delivery to avid consumers in all corners of the state – hell, they don’t even hire the drivers.
Their middleman business model is really pretty brilliant and has spawned no shortage of competitors, but so far, none of them have been able to truly compete with Eaze.
This has, of course, led to a pretty profit by the company which has attracted generous amounts of investor capital as well, putting Eaze in a highly influential position with both the industry and the lawmakers overseeing it.
It would be pretty easy for Eaze to act sleazy, and they have their share of critics, but they made headlines in a couple of different ways this past 4/20.
Well aware of the goodwill fostered by the efforts of DA Gascón and Code for America in the Bay Area, Eaze vowed to donate $4.20 from every single delivery order placed on its platform on the stoner holiday of April 20th to Code for America’s latest mission – “Justice at Scale” – in which they are aiming to expedite the expungement of 250,000 (!!!) low-level, cannabis-related crimes.
Eaze said it would tally up the $4.20’s until a max of $100,000 which would surely prime the pump to help CFA reach its ultimate goal of millions of expunged records nationwide.
The marijuana delivery magnate has not divulged just how much was raised for CFA this past weekend, but considering the fact that the multimillion dollar Eaze online platform crashed HARD on 4/20 due to an overwhelming amount of site traffic, we’re willing to bet that they raised a handsome chunk of change to hand over to Code for America.
“The legal cannabis market must address the effects of the War on Drugs,” said Eaze’s Director of Social Impact Jennifer Lujan in a recent press release. “4/20 is not just about celebration but also an opportunity to bring attention to the injustices. Supporting Code for America has an immediate effect on helping repair. It’s just one way Eaze is working to create an equitable and sustainable industry.”
One of the biggest disappointments of Prop 64 and adult use cannabis legalization here in California is how much of a negative impact that it has had on the charitable giving that the cannabis culture was founded on.
So many of the major players from just a few years ago are either struggling to keep their heads above water in a sea of compliance officers and sharks, or are thriving in the unregulated market making “dirty” money that many organizations just can’t touch.
It is refreshing to see a company like Eaze, who didn’t even exist a decade ago, making such a tremendous effort to help make right decades of wrongs against cannabis consumers and movers.