Ridley Thomas Introduces Motion to Decriminalize Minor Cannabis Convictions

LA County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hear the motion on February 13, 2018.


February 6, 2018

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced a read-in motion calling on the Office of Cannabis Management, in collaboration with various Los Angeles County departments and community stakeholders, to develop a countywide plan to facilitate the resentencing of minor cannabis convictions.

Under Proposition 64, certain convictions qualify for reduction or dismissal; for youth, that also includes the destruction of court records. However, many people remain unaware that they may be eligible for legal relief, or are deterred by the cumbersome process.

"In cannabis policy, we in Los Angeles County have prioritized public health and health equity, and we are working to ensure that our communities are not further negatively impacted by commercialization," Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. "We would be remiss and negligent if we do not also take a strong step to reduce the legal, social and economic disparities that have been caused by the so-called 'War on Drugs.'"

The motion, coauthored by Supervisor Hilda Solis, also seeks to prevent the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis-related offenses seen in other jurisdictions post-legalization. In Alaska, for example, while overall cannabis-related arrests fell after legalization, African Americans were still arrested for these offenses approximately 10 times more often than Caucasians were. In Washington, D.C. this racial disparity was closer to 4:1, and in Colorado, 3:1.

"It is important to ensure there is equity in the enforcement of cannabis-related offenses going forward, so we don't repeat the mistakes of the past," Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. Disproportionate enforcement has particularly impacted African American and Latino communities, leading to higher rates of arrest and more severe charges and sentences. This has resulted in wider barriers to employment, housing and financial assistance, and deeper social and economic disparities.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hear the motion on February 13, 2018.


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