The Drug War, as it relates to cannabis, is slowly coming to a halt, one step at a time. In an indicative move, a Seattle judged recently moved to vacate misdemeanor pot violations ranging from 1996 to 2010. The motion was filed by city attorney Pete Holmes, who decided to stop prosecuting minor cannabis offenses when he took office in 2010.
Holmes’ main concern was to clear the records of those most disproportionately affected by cannabis drug laws, such as black and brown persons, who are statistically more likely to be arrested for simple possession than white people, who consume relatively the same amount of weed (and other drugs).
Related Story: Seattle To Vacate 542 Marijuana Possession Convictions
All seven court judges agreed on the order, signing it and setting it forth to be executed. “Insomuch as the conduct for which the defendant was convicted is no longer criminal, setting aside the conviction and dismissing the case serves the interests of justice,” wrote the judges.
The ruling will affect well over 500 people who will be mailed notices and who will then have 33 days to either object or seek a personalized finding. After the 33 day grace period, everyone who has not objected or asked for an individualized findings will have their convictions vacated. In other words, those who receive notices need do nothing.
Holmes said in a statement that Seattle should, “take a moment to recognize the significance” of the ruling. “We’ve come a long way, and I hope this action inspires other jurisdictions to follow suit.” Cannabis activists in legal states and in states that are trying to make their way to the finish line would love to see further similar actions implemented in as many places as possible.
Having a drug conviction, be it a misdemeanor or not, can affect one’s life in many negative aspects, from the inability to obtain student grants and loans to the job application hurdle where it asks if you’ve ever been committed of a crime. The people whose cases are vacated will have fewer restrictions on their lives and can feel vindicated for simply utilizing a plant.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan added this, “For too many who call Seattle home, a misdemeanor marijuana conviction or charge has created barriers to opportunity—good jobs, housing, loans and education. While we cannot reverse the harm that was done, we will continue to give Seattle residents…a clean slate.”