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Access to Marijuana Conviction Records Soon to be Limited in Atlanta

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wants to restrict access to criminal records for minor marijuana possession convictions.

As an ongoing attempt to reform the criminal justice system, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced at the end of December 2019 that she was going to start limiting access to records involving low level marijuana offenses. Her hope is that people, particularly in communities of color, will no longer be disproportionately affected by their criminal history, even long after they have served their time.

The Executive Action

When announcing the executive action, Mayor Bottoms stated that she wanted to limit the amount of access the public had to criminal records. This restriction would apply mainly to individuals who have a criminal conviction formarijuana possession of one ounce or less. This means that no one, such as employers, could access those records. Law enforcement, however, would still be able to access the records.

The executive action will also affect individuals who have a criminal history due to a disorderly conduct conviction. Prior to 2007, law enforcement in Atlanta could arrest someone fordisorderly conduct simply for being in a place where illegal narcotics were possessed or sold. A person could face these charges even if they had nothing to do with the drugs, and even when they were not disturbing the peace.

When making the announcement, the mayor stated that she would like city officials to establish the process for limiting access to records by February of this year. In order for a person to have access to their record limited, they would have to apply to the city.

Reaction to the Announcement

Many advocacy groups for criminal justice reform praised the proposed executive action, but some have concerns. Some have raised the issue that the restriction would apply to everyone, even those in elected positions such as judges and elected officials. Certain critics of the action have stated that it is important for the public to know when a person of authority in the state has a criminal record.

Even critics of the announcement, however, believe that a better idea may be to simply legalize marijuana in all forms. Although Atlanta has already decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, full legalization would mean that people were not breaking the law and so, it would not matter if people could access their criminal records.

Our Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help with Your Record

Criminal records pose significant problems for anyone who has one. They make it more difficult for people to obtain housing, employment, and even academic opportunities. If you are facing charges, or you have a criminal record that you would like to get sealed or expunged, call ourAtlanta criminal defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam. We know the limitations that come with a criminal record, and we will give you the best chance of beating your charges or advise on how to remove an offense from your record. Call us today at (404) 561-0202 or contact us online for the help you need with your defense.