Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Seattle Joining San Francisco In Erasing Past Marijuana Convictions

San Francisco made history and national headlines last week when District Attorney George Gascón revealed the city would dismiss and seal past marijuana convictions. Now Seattle’s mayor and city attorney said Thursday they too would provide “restorative justice” to the city.

In a press conference, city attorney Pete Holmes of Seattle will move to dismiss past cannabis possession convictions, which he estimates could affect between 500 to 600 cases. It could be even more.

“I can’t emphasize enough how much a conviction affects a person’s life the moment it happens. Almost every application they fill out will ask, ‘Have you ever been convicted of a crime?’” Mayor Jenny Durkan said at the conference. “While we cannot reverse all the harm that was done, we can give back to those people a record that says they were not convicted.”

Durkan also wrote an op-ed in The Stranger further explaining her decision. Throughout her legal career, she witnessed firsthand the devastating impact the war on drugs had, “especially [for] people of color and their families. People’s lives were ruined for misdemeanor marijuana offenses.”

Though Durkan hopes this necessary first step will inspire other cities and communities, she notes that there is work that remains to be done.

Via The Stranger:

Addressing the wrongs that were caused by the failures of the war on drugs for many years in this country – and particularly the damage wrought on communities of color – won’t happen overnight. We must provide more effective alternatives to prosecution and incarceration through drug and mental health courts, restoring rights and supporting re-entry. Our actions must go far beyond the realm of criminal justice reform; it will require us to make our City more affordable, close the opportunity gap through free community college and technical training, and to continue the hard work of building trust between our community and the Seattle Police Department.

Seattle and San Francisco are cities among the nine states to have legalized recreational marijuana. These “reformative justice” moves could set a precedent moving forward, as more states consider legalization.


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