San Francisco Will Clear Thousands of Marijuana Convictions Dating Back to 1975

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The district attorney's office will review, recall and resentence almost 5,000 felony marijuana convictions, and dismiss and seal more than 3,000 misdemeanors that were sentenced prior to Proposition 64's passage, District Attorney George Gascón said.

San Francisco city officials announced plans yesterday to begin reviewing and automatically expunging thousands of past marijuana possession convictions.

The state of California legalized marijuana for recreational use under Proposition 64 in November of 2016. Anyone who is now in jail, on probation, or on parole for a cannabis-related crime can also apply for resentencing. However, after so few eligible people applied, Gascon said he chose to make the move himself. This can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500, putting the process out of reach for many low-income individuals. "Although Proposition 64 provided a way for people to petition the court to get relief from past marijuana convictions, the process is not automatic and depends upon the person learning of their rights under the new law and initiating the court process". Brown, who's from the local NAACP chapter, says this will be especially welcome in San Francisco's communities of color.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a Democrat from Oakland, introduced legislation on January 9 that would require county courts to automatically expunge eligible records.

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A bill requiring all California district attorneys to follow in Gascon's footsteps is being evaluated by California legislators.

In California, it's estimated that between 1915 and 2016, California law enforcement made 2,756,778 cannabis arrests. As indicated by the disparities in San Francisco arrest and booking rates, the War on Drugs has produced disparate arrest rates across racial groups. This decision will affect thousands of city residents whose misdemeanors or felony convictions affect their chances of employment, housing, and other benefits.

"This is a giant step for justice", Brown said Wednesday.

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