On a recent afternoon, Ms. Walton was at a free legal clinic here in Oregon’s largest city, filling out paperwork to have that infraction forever sealed. Once the process is complete, she will be able to legally say to an employer, landlord or anybody else who asks that she has never been convicted or cited for any drug crime at all.
“It’s taken away a lot of my life,” Ms. Walton said as she inked out her fingerprints, which Oregon requires applicants for sealing to file.
Many states in the past few years have begun to rethink the implications of harsh drug or mandatory sentencing laws that led to high incarceration rates and costs, revising rules so people who have righted their lives can escape the stigma of a criminal record.
Ms. Walton used a state law, not restricted to drug offenses, that allows anyone with a lowest-level felony, misdemeanor or nontraffic violation to wipe the slate clean if 10 years or longer has gone by without another conviction. Starting next year, more serious felony marijuana convictions of the past, like manufacturing, will be eligible for record sealing as well.
I like to think that I do not have a “myoptic worldview” as some people have said. If I did, I don't think I would link to the above article about Oregon's experiment with legalizing marijuana and say that I applaud what Oregon is doing. I've held the belief that all drugs should be legal, just taxed at an insane rate. But otherwise, treat it as we do alcohol (although I'm not sure how I feel about drunks on horseback being arrested—I mean, doesn't the horse know the way home? The “drivers” aren't exactly “driving” the horse, are they? I don't think they should be arrested, or even stopped unless the horse is causing an issue. They're being more reponsible taking a sober animal home than in driving a heavy metal cage down the highway at speed. And how will this play out with self-driving cars? My, we live in interesting times indeed!).
“But Sean,” you say, “what about that post from the other day, about marijuana causing paranoia? How does that jibe with you wanting all drugs legalized?”
As with alcohol, there are benefits both good and bad to all drugs. In the case of that post from a few days ago, I was trying to point out (not very successfully I'll admit) that marijuana can change your world view, in potentially good or potentially bad ways. And maybe, just maybe, take it a bit more moderately.