Since California legalized recreational marijuana earlier this month, a number of interesting questions have been raised. Things like, “Where can people consume marijuana (not at Coachella)?” Or, “What does the state do about banks unwilling to work with (perfectly legal) drug money?” However, the most important question was one raised by criminal justice activists, who were highlighting concerns with people already possessing criminal convictions thanks to the now-legalized drug. “What about them?”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, their city “will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases… expunging or reducing misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades.” The move will benefit thousands who have been burdened with criminal records due to past convictions and have seen employment opportunities or access to government benefits affected by said records.
San Francisco is taking a proactive approach by enacting this measure. Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use for those 21 and over, included a provision that allowed “those with past marijuana convictions that would have been lesser crimes — or no crime at all — under Prop. 64 to petition a court to recall or dismiss their cases.” Instead, San Francisco will review cases and wipe them from the books entirely, saving would-be petitioners from a potentially time consuming and expensive process. District Attorney George Gascón said that more than 3,000 misdemeanor convictions dating back to 1975 would be immediately dismissed, while felony charges, like possession of more than one ounce, would potentially be re-sentenced.
(Via San Francisco Chronicle)