Bay-area stoners with a record may be in luck, as a lot of their convictions are about to go up in smoke to join that heavy fog sitting over Frisco. The District Attorney of San Francisco announced that his office is going to erase or reduce thousands of cannabis-related criminal convictions.
DA George Gascon said Wednesday that city prosecutors will “dismiss nearly 3,000 misdemeanor cases and review nearly 5,000 felony cases for possible action,” going back as far as the 1970’s, as reported by the Associated Press.
The ability to expunge and alter criminal records is made possible by Proposition 64, California cannabis legalization measure which was passed at the end of 2016. One stipulation of Prop 64 was that those with prior cannabis convictions could petition to have their criminal records changed.
But some cities have considered taking it upon themselves to do it without having to be petitioned. A bill introduced earlier this month into the state congress would automatically expunge or reduce criminal cannabis convictions.
This doesn’t just come from bleeding heart guilt over drug war remorse. It’s also about saving resources. Gascon noted that wiping out thousands of convictions all at once would save a lot of time and money for the courts, compared with going through cases one by one as they’re petitioned. But that’s not to say that there isn’t any drug war guilt at work, and rightfully so.
“A misdemeanor or felony conviction can have significant implications for employment, housing, and other benefits,” Gascon said.
So far Gascon says the city has received only 23 petitions for expunging or reducing cannabis convictions. Statewide, roughly 5,000 people have petitioned to alter their records, out of 100,000 who are eligible.
Photo via Flickr user annso t