The city of San Francisco is preparing to expunge marijuana convictions from the criminal records book.
The city’s district attorney, George Gascon, says his office is dismissing 3,038 marijuana-related misdemeanors immediately. It will also review another 4,940 marijuana-related felonies to be reclassified as misdemeanors.
“Today I’m announcing that the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office proactively will be dismissing misdemeanor cases, sealing the records of those who were convicted for marijuana offenses” Gascon told reporters.
San Diego is also taking a similar step. Over 12,000 people in these two cities will benefit from the new initiative.
The decision comes after more than 75% of the city’s residents voted to pass Proposition 64, which allows people convicted of both low and high-level marijuana crimes, both misdemeanors or felonies, to petition a court to review their case, ask for their cases to be dismissed from the criminal records, or get sentenced reduced.
Gascon admits the country’s war on drugs has been a failure. His office intends to “right so many of wrongs that have been caused by the war on drugs”:
“We want to address the wrongs that were caused by the failures of the war on drugs for many years in this country, and begin to fix some of the harm that was done. Not only to the entire nation but specifically to communities of color and many others. They’re [people] tired of the war on drugs, they do not believe that was the right path to follow, and now it’s up to us to ensure that we not only implement the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law.
“The process will take no hearings. People will not have to hire attorneys, they will never have to come to our courts. Everything will be done proactively here, by the DA’s office.”
Recreational marijuana is legal in San Francisco. The city plans to reinvest profits from marijuana sales into communities most harmed by the war on drugs.
Laura Thomas, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, says more than 1 million Californians can benefit from having their records expunged:
“The promise of Prop 64 was that we would use the legalization of adult use of marijuana in order to help repair some of the damages that have been done, primarily to communities of color in this state by the war on drugs.”
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