On January 1, Californians legalized marijuana for recreational use, marking one of the most radical criminal justice reforms in recent memory. As a new VICE report points out, the new law also gives people convicted for past pot-related offenses a chance to have their convictions taken off their records.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, nearly 1 million Californians are eligible to have their records expunged.
A clean record would allow people to vote, apply for many loans and licenses, and, perhaps most importantly, answer “no” when potential employers ask whether they have a felony in their past. The change particularly affects African-Americans in California, who were five times as likely to get arrested for a marijuana felony than white offenders, and thus disproportionately saddled with the lifelong constraints that come with a criminal record.
One pot felon who spoke to VICE said that the new law will likely improve his job prospects.
“It really kind of affected me,” Rayshon Williams said. “The whole time, they’re not gonna hire you because they see that ‘F’ on your record.”
Watch VICE’s report below:
Featured image via screen grab