Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

San Francisco Plans To Retroactively Forgive Thousands Of Marijuana Convictions

San Francisco Plans To Retroactively Forgive Thousands Of Marijuana Convictions San Francisco Plans To Retroactively Forgive Thousands Of Marijuana Convictions
Melinda Barton | 01 February, 2018, 02:31

Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use for those 21 and over, included a provision that allowed "those with past marijuana convictions that would have been lesser crimes - or no crime at all - under Prop. 64 to petition a court to recall or dismiss their cases".

District Attorney George Gascón said the city will retroactively apply California's marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

The U.S. Justice Department announced last week it's halting an Obama-era policy to take a hands-off approach toward states that have legalized marijuana, still illegal under federal law. Gascon's office hopes to finish the process by the end of the year.

California, where pot shops opened around the state this month, was the sixth state to allow recreational marijuana, following Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada.

That, Gascón and others in San Francisco said, is part of the reason he is automatically changing or reviewing convictions. Voters in MA and ME have approved recreational marijuana, though sales have not started in either state.

Gascon said 23 petitions for dismissal or reduction have been filed in San Francisco since passage of Proposition 64. The office will also revisit and offer new sentences for thousands of felony marijuana cases.

Across the state, only about 5,000 people have so far applied to have their marijuana sentences reviewed for possible relief, according to data compiled by the Judicial Council of California. Other states that have legalized marijuana specifically ban people with drug convictions from working in the field or limit their ability to participate by requiring extensive documentation of their history.

"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", he said. In 2011, after penalties for marijuana possession was downgraded from a misdemeanor in San Francisco, 50 percent marijuana-related arrests were of African-Americans, while they represented just 6 percent of the region's population in 2010.