Seattle has become the latest city in legal marijuana states across the country looking at erasing prior cannabis convictions. On Thursday, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced that Seattle may dismiss over 1,000 marijuana convictions.
Seattle Mayor Wants to Get Rid of All Marijuana Convictions Made Prior to Current Legal Marijuana Laws
Durkan’s requests are simple. Along with City Attorney Pete Holmes, Durkin will ask the city’s municipal courts to get rid of marijuana convictions that were made prior to the state’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis.
Durkan believes that because recreational cannabis is legal in Washington, that people having marijuana charges on their records doesn’t make sense. Aside from this, her decision to organize this campaign are part of efforts being made by Washington to move towards more progressive cannabis regulations.
The Latest Step in Seattle’s Efforts to End Marijuana Prosecution
These efforts aren’t something new happening in Washington. In 2003, the prosecution of marijuana charges was voted in as one of the city’s lowest law enforcement policies. In 2010, the year Pete Holmes became City Attorney, all marijuana possession charges began being dismissed.
“Righting the Wrongs” of Racial Injustice
The efforts by Durkan and Holmes to erase prior cannabis convictions in Seattle are also being made to erase racial inequality in the city. Like many other cities across the country, marijuana legalization in Seattle has become a racial justice issue.
“The war on drugs has devastating impacts on people, especially on people of color and their families,” Durkan expressed in an official announcement. “People’s lives were ruined for misdemeanor marijuana offenses. This action is a necessary first step in righting the wrongs of the past and putting our progressive values into action.”
A 2012 report found that between 1986-2010, black people were 2.9 times more likely to be arrested for possession of weed than white people. Latinos and other non-whites were 1.6 more likely to be arrested than whites. This is despite the fact that these groups consumed less cannabis than whites.
If Durkan’s efforts succeed, over 1,000 people will see their past marijuana charges disappear.