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San Francisco is wiping clean decades of misdemeanor marijuana-related convictions


Under the city's new policy, open misdemeanor marijuana cases will be dismissed. The office will also resentence offenders who received a felony pot conviction. Hopefully, this is only the beginning of poppin' provisional laws to come as new marijuana legalization laws come into effect.

The expungement was made possible under Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state. It also allowed people convicted of marijuana charges to petition courts to toss out the cases or reduce penalties. Of course, this would only apply to individuals that were convicted of a misdemeanor.

The prosecutor's office will also review almost 5,000 felony convictions with the idea of possibly reducing them to misdemeanors. Sale and taxation of marijuana by the state went into effect on January 1, however.

He said 23 petitions for dismissal or reduction have been filed in San Francisco since passage of Proposition 64. The San Francisco District Attorney's office is to be commended for proactively rectifying this situation - one that has disproportionately burdened far too many young people and people of color. As indicated by the disparities in San Francisco arrest and booking rates, the War on Drugs has produced disparate arrest rates across racial groups.

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

The U.S. Justice Department announced earlier this year that it's halting an Obama-era policy to take a hands-off approach toward states that have legalized marijuana. In San Francisco, African Americans were four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. Other states that have legalized marijuana specifically ban people with drug convictions from working in the field or limit their ability to participate by requiring extensive documentation of their history.

Criminal convictions "can be a barrier to employment, housing and other benefits", Gascón said.

As a result, more than 3,000 misdemeanor cases stretching back to 1975 are being dismissed, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.


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