People in San Francisco that have been busted for possession of weed are about to see their records disappear.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced on Wednesday that they plan to erase thousands of prior marijuana convictions. That’s right. San Francisco DA, George Gascon, is giving power back to the people who have previous pot charges.
Gascon said his office will dismiss almost 3,000 misdemeanor cases, and review some 5,000 felony cases, some of which are decades old.
“A misdemeanor or felony conviction,” said Gascon, “can have significant implications for employment, housing, and other benefits.”
Cases from 1975 through the passing of Proposition 64 (which legalized recreational marijuana in California) will be reviewed.
Aside from legalizing recreational weed, Proposition 64 also allowed people convicted of marijuana charges to request cases be dismissed or penalties reduced.
This however, is expensive and time consuming, according to Gascon. His office instead plans to review and erase convictions all at once. He says some people might not even know they qualify.
Proposition 64 passed in 2016. Since then, 23 petitions have been filed in San Francisco to reduce or erase prior marijuana convictions. As of September 2017, approximately 5,000 people in the state had applied to change their records. It’s estimated however, that there are over 100,000 people in California who are eligible.
The move by San Francisco to erase thousands of prior marijuana convictions is a direct refusal to accept recent crackdowns on legal cannabis by the federal government. No matter how hard the feds try to uphold outdated policies, the people are letting their voices be heard.
In neighboring city Oakland, a bill was introduced in early January that would automatically erase prior marijuana convictions. Assemblyman Rob Bonta presented legislation that would require county courts to automatically erase eligible records.
“California overwhelmingly sent a message to the federal government stating that their cannabis-centric “war on drugs” should not be waged here,” said one Los Angeles Assemblyman earlier this month.
The message from California to the federal government couldn’t be any clearer.
Do you feel prior cannabis convictions should be erased if marijuana is recreationally and medicinally legalized in a state? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.