Thousands of criminal convictions for marijuana spanning decades are going to be wiped out in San Francisco thanks to a current California law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.
Proposition 64, which allowed legal sale of marijuana in 2018 following the law’s passing in 2016, will now be applied retroactively to past criminal cases, according to the district attorney’s office.
With some convictions dating back to 1975, nearly 5,000 felony marijuana convictions and more than 3,000 misdemeanors will be affected by the new policy, District Attorney George Gascón announced Wednesday.
“While drug policy on the federal level is going backwards, San Francisco is once again taking the lead to undo the damage that this country’s disastrous, failed drug war has had on our nation and on communities of color in particular,” the district attorney said.
“A misdemeanor or felony conviction can have significant implications for employment, housing, and other benefits,” Gascón said, explaining that convictions will be reviewed and misdemeanors dismissed.
More than 100,000 people may be eligible to have their records changed, according to an estimate by Laura Thomas, deputy state director for the pro-marijuana organization Drug Policy Alliance, NBC News reported. California state data indicated in September that about 5,000 people had applied for a change in their records – a fraction of the number who are likely to be eligible.
San Francisco has seen 23 petitions for dismissal or reduction have been filed since Proposition 64 was passed, Gascón said.
California’s Democrat Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor and a vocal proponent of DACA, called the move a “model for the nation.”
This example underscores the true promise of legalization – providing new hope for those whose lives were derailed by a costly, broken, & racially discriminatory system. This isn’t just an urgent issue of social justice in CA – it’s a model for the nation.https://t.co/iCPGE2KATy
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 31, 2018
According to the district attorney’s office, more than two million people were arrested in California between 1915 and 2016 for marijuana but less than 5,000 people have filed to have their convictions reduced or removed since Proposition 64 was passed legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for those 21 and older in California.
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