When Californians voted yes on Prop 64—which legalized recreational marijuana usage and sales in the state—it also allowed those with past marijuana convictions to petition courts to dismiss or reduce their cases.
But now in an unprecedented move, San Francisco won’t leave the decision as each person. Instead the city announced this week it would apply those laws to all past marijuana-related cases and will either remove or reduce individuals’ convictions. District Attorney George Gascón said the city’s efforts will stretch back decades.
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Those with past marijuana convictions are often labeled with criminal histories that impede them from jobs or government benefits. The San Francisco Chronicle estimates this move will benefit thousands among city residents.
“The district attorney said his office will dismiss and seal more than 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions in San Francisco dating back to 1975. Prosecutors will also review and, if necessary, re-sentence 4,940 felony marijuana cases, Gascón said.”
“According to the Drug Policy Alliance, nearly 5,000 people statewide have petitioned courts to have their marijuana convictions expunged since Prop. 64 took effect. In San Francisco, however, fewer than two dozen people have done so, Gascón said.”
Gascón believes his office is the first in the state to enact such a policy. He understands it will involve a lot of clerical work, but hopes that it will encourage others to follow San Francisco’s lead.
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“We’re hoping what we are doing here will not only benefit San Francisco,” he told the Chronicle. “We’re hoping other elected officials around the state will say this is the right thing to do.”
California’s legal cannabis market is expected to generate $5.2 billion in revenue in its first year of sales.