Thousands of marijuana convictions dating from 1975 are set to be dismissed, according to District Attorney George Gascon. San Francisco is set to dismiss cannabis related convictions and people with marijuana convictions will have these misdemeanours wiped from their records.
Those who have been convicted with more serious cannabis crimes could face a revised sentencing as well. All cannabis related crimes and convictions are set to come under review and some could possibly be resentenced to more minor misdemeanours.
At a news conference on Wednesday, the district attorney said that they want to tackle the issues that have come from 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 colour,” the District Attorney admitted.
These revisions are due to a Californian provision that promotes justice for those convicted of marijuana related misdemeanours. The newly legalized recreational marijuana is setting the tone for many cases up to 1975 to be revised and this brings an opportunity for the more serious felonies to be revisited and re-examined.
Those with misdemeanour charges need to be active participants in the process as the cases do not come under revision automatically. A petition needs to be made in order for the person to have their record examined and then possibly expunged.
This San Francisco marijuana update has been welcomed warmly in the state of California with 4,500 people having already brought their case forward. However, many are saying that these revisions have not been made open knowledge. The amendments should be made more public and some lawyers are saying that it has not been made known efficiently for all the public. Those that are living on meagre funds, the lower income bracket, may find it almost impossible to petition their cases in court.
This has been met with a response from some attorneys, including the D.A, that they will in fact revise some cases automatically.
Supervisor Malia Cohen has said that there will be many cases that will be revised at no charge to the person or persons convicted.
Persons with their cases in review will have other convictions, non marijuana related, to weigh either in their favour or not. If a person has a minor marijuana misdemeanour under revision, the prosecutor will take all other felonies and convictions into account as well. A more serious felony could cause the marijuana misdemeanour to remain as is, according to the prosecutor. Any existing marijuana convictions and misdemeanours will be examined with the law as it stands now. Those convicted of carrying less than an ounce of marijuana could have their record wiped clean because it is now legal under Californian state law for you to carry an ounce or less,
Gascon has admitted that the process to apply for expunction is costly and not a viable option for a large percent of the population. Less than 30 applications have been brought forward. It is for this reason that District Attorney’s office will address more than 3, 000 marijuana misdemeanours without the cases needed to be brought forward by the convicted persons.
Gascon said that they were aware of the devastating effect the war on drugs has had on the public. He said that San Francisco is set to take “the lead to undo the damage that this country’s disastrous, failed drug war has had on our nation and on communities of colour in particular.”