San Francisco and San Diego to clear thousands of previous marijuana convictions

After the state voted to fully legalize marijuana in 2016, the two California cities are moving to clear many past marijuana-related charges, according to the cities’ district attorneys.

San Francisco has so far identified roughly 3,000 convictions that are eligible for automatic erasure as well as an additional 4,900 felony cases that prosecutors will examine to determine if they should be retroactively reduced to misdemeanors.

San Diego has identified 4,700 cases, both felonies and misdemeanors, which will be cleared or downgraded.

The decision stems from a provision in California’s marijuana law that grants individuals convicted of marijuana-related charges the opportunity to have their records reduced or expunged. However, this process can be costly, as it typically requires hiring a lawyer, paying court fees, etc.

Because this provision is not well known, and the requirements can be costly, the district attorneys in these cities have decided to dismiss eligible cases at no cost.

“A lot of people don’t even know they qualify, and I don’t think it’s the right thing to do to make people pay lawyers’ fees and jump through a bunch of hoops to get something they should be getting anyway,” said San Francisco district attorney George Gascón.

Source: The New York Times, 1/31/2018

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