Alaska Scrubbing Hundreds of Pot Convictions from Court Database
Hundreds of Alaska residents will have their prior marijuana convictions removed from the state’s online court database.
That move follows an order late last month from the state Supreme Court last month, according to local media reports.
Local news station KTUU reports that, as of May 1, “marijuana possession convictions of about just under 800 Alaska residents will be removed from Courtview, a public, online database of court cases.”
The order “follows years of similar, unsuccessful, legislative efforts to join a nationwide trend,” according to the Anchorage Daily News.
“I’m glad that the Supreme Court has ordered this,” said Democratic state Sen. Scott Kawasaki, as quoted by the Anchorage Daily News.
As stipulated by the state Supreme Court, the removal from the system will apply to individuals who were “convicted of possessing less than one ounce of marijuana … or a prior version of that statute that criminalized the same conduct, or a municipal ordinance that criminalized that same conduct if … the defendant was 21 years of age or older at the time of the offense, and … the defendant was not convicted of any other criminal charges in that same case.”
According to the Anchorage Daily News, those “records will still be available for inspection at courthouses and will be discoverable by a formal criminal background check, but they won’t be as easy to find for the general public.”
Alaska legalized recreational cannabis for adults in 2014, when a majority of the state’s voters approved a ballot measure ending the prohibition on pot.
“Given that (marijuana) has been legal for eight years, it appeared to the Supreme Court that this was an appropriate time not to have people, as I say, suffer the negative consequences that can stem from having your name posted on Courtview. Because the conduct is considered legal right now,” said Nancy Meade, the general counsel for the Alaska Court System.
In September, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, issued an order establishing a new task force “to review the current marijuana tax and fee structures, and regulations applicable to marijuana operators, and provide recommendations for improvement to the Office of the Governor.”
“In the past seven years Alaska’s marijuana industry has flourished but is still considered a new and evolving industry in Alaska,” Dunleavy said in the announcement. “As we would expect to see with any new industry, concerns have been raised about the structure the industry has been operating under. A cornerstone of my administration has been to review unnecessary regulations that are a burden to business, while ensuring oversight to protect the health, life, and safety of all Alaskans. It is my hope that with the formation of the Governor’s Advisory Task Force on Recreational Marijuana, we can bring together a variety of voices and perspectives to evaluate existing provisions and consider recommendations to improve the viability of the industry.”
Dunleavy’s office said the task force will be comprised of 13 members, three of whom will be “The Commissioner of the Department of Revenue or the Commissioner’s designee; The Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development or the Commissioner’s designee; [and] The Director of the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Agriculture.”
The remaining ten members of the task force are identified as follows: “One member who sits on the Alaska Marijuana Control Board; One member who represents a city, borough, or municipality that allows recreational marijuana businesses within its jurisdictional boundaries; One member that is a standard licensed marijuana cultivator in the State; One member that is a limited licensed marijuana cultivator in the State; One member that is a licensed marijuana product or concentrate manufacturer in the State; One member that is a licensed marijuana retailer in the State; Three licensed marijuana operators from any segment of the industry; [and] One public member.”