Nearly two decades ago, on a high desert road in San Bernardino County, Sara Rodriguez was pulled over and arrested with 10 small packets of cannabis in her car. She was convicted of a felony, possession of the drug for sale, and eventually spent more than two years in prison.
In the years since, Rodriguez, 39, became the first in her family to go to college, and in June graduated from UCLA with a master’s degree in social welfare.
But Rodriguez still has a felony on her record — a potential black mark for employers and the state social work licensing board.
When California voters legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2016, one promise was the creation of a legal pathway through the courts for clearing many past marijuana-related convictions or reducing them to a lesser charge.
It was a step championed by reform advocates, meant to right many of the injustices inflicted by the nation’s war on drugs that was disproportionately waged on poor people and communities of color.
But despite a 2018 law intended to speed up and automate the process, tens of thousands of Californians like Rodriguez are still stuck with felonies, misdemeanors and other convictions on their records, a Los Angeles Times investigation found. [Read more at Los Angeles Times]
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