San Francisco Is Tossing Out Thousands Of Marijuana Convictions

by Antonio Miles February 2, 2018, 0:17
San Francisco Is Tossing Out Thousands Of Marijuana Convictions

The city of San Francisco plans to retroactively apply California's current marijuana legalization laws to past criminal cases dating back decades, the district attorney's office announced Wednesday.

In his statement, Gascón said San Francisco was "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".

Proposition 64, the 2016 referendum item that legalized recreational marijuana in California, allows pot offenders to petition for resentencing if their crime would have received a different penalty, or no penalty at all, under the new law.

"We're hoping what we are doing here will not only benefit San Francisco", said the district attorney. Prop. 64, the voter approved initiative that legalized marijuana in California, allows defendants to petition to have their convictions thrown out. The process also requires that most retain an attorney and that all file the proper paperwork, actions which can be both costly and time-consuming.

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The 4,940 felony convictions are unlikely to be expunged completely, but many could receive a sentence reduction. The Drug Policy Alliance estimates that one million Californians are eligible to have their records changed, but to date, only 4,885 Californians have petitioned their cases. "This isn't just an urgent issue of social justice here in California-it's a model for the rest of the nation". A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that African Americans were more than twice as likely to be arrested for cannabis possession as whites, even though both groups have similar rates of cannabis use. Since 1975, almost 8,000 people have been convicted of marijuana-related crimes in San Francisco.

San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen told WaPo, "There are thousands of cases that are going to be dismissed at no cost". The office also intends to review and resentence many past felony convictions.

How did San Francisco vote for Proposition 64?


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