San Francisco’s District Attorney Says His Office Will Proactively Review and Void Marijuana Convictions Going Back to 1975 in Light of California’s New Legal Cannabis Law
David Royse | LedeTree
With marijuana use now legal for all adults in California, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday that his office will work to clear the convictions of those who were busted under the laws in place when the plant was illegal.
The law in California already allowed those with marijuana convictions to seek reduced sentences or dismissals, but they had to initiate a court petition to do it. Gascón said his office now plans to review cases going back to 1975 for possible resentencing or dismissal of nearly 5,000 felony cases and more than 3,000 misdemeanors, without requiring any action by those affected.
“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,” Gascón said in a statement released by his office. “Long ago we lost our ability to distinguish the dangerous from the nuisance, and it has broken our pocket books, the fabric of our communities, and we are no safer for it.
“While this relief is already available pursuant to Proposition 64 for anyone with a conviction, it requires that they know it is available and to retain an attorney to file the expungement paperwork,” he said. “A criminal conviction can be a barrier to employment, housing and other benefits, so instead of waiting for the community to take action, we’re taking action for the community.”
About 4,800 Californians – though just 23 in San Francisco – have already petitioned courts to have their convictions voided in light of the new law.
Gascón said that the office’s new policy will affect those who were convicted of possession of 28.5 grams or less of marijuana or 8 grams or less of concentrated cannabis.
Those convicted of possession with intent to sell, transporting marijuana, and cultivation of large amounts may be able to have felonies reclassified as misdemeanors under certain circumstances.
Before becoming district attorney in San Francisco, Gascón was the city’s police chief.
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