San Francisco Wiping Out Old Weed Convictions
California voters changed the landscape of the state when they voted in Proposition 64 in November 2016. That move made marijuana legal both medicinally and recreationally under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act in January 2017. Now, San Francisco is taking another radical step with regard to marijuana convictions.
How San Francisco Is Dealing with Old Marijuana Crimes
The District Attorney of San Francisco, George Gascon, has stated that the city will retroactively apply the new marijuana laws to people currently in jail for misdemeanor and felony marijuana convictions, going as far back as 1975. The District Attorney’s office will be reviewing nearly 5,000 felony convictions that may be up for a reduced sentence; and it is prepared to dismiss over 3,000 misdemeanors.
Those convicted on misdemeanor marijuana charges will have their records wiped clean of the applicable charges. If those are the only charges a person is in jail for, he will be released and no longer have a criminal record. Beneficiaries will now be eligible to receive certain government benefits and have an easier time finding employment and housing, things that were not available before Proposition 64 was passed.
People with felony marijuana convictions may get some reprieve, but their records may not be entirely cleared. Depending on the charge and the circumstances at the time of crime, some may be reduced to misdemeanor offenses.
All charges will be required to stand up to the law as it is currently. For instance, those convicted of possessing under one ounce of marijuana are eligible to have their records expunged because one ounce is currently legal for adults over 21. However, for those who were convicted in the past of growing fifteen plants, contrary to the six plants California law currently allows, the conviction may stay as is.
San Francisco prosecutors can decide not to review a marijuana conviction at all if a major felony, such as murder, also appears on an individual’s record.
How This Could Affect the Rest of California
This move by San Francisco has left many in San Diego and throughout the rest of the state wondering what will happen to their convictions. And the news is good.
Clearing old marijuana convictions according to the new standards is outlined in Proposition 64, although this fact is not widely known. The provision states that all individuals in California currently serving time for marijuana convictions may be able to have their charges dismissed or reduced.
There is still one difference between San Francisco and the rest of California: while San Francisco’s citizens will not need to petition the court to have their records expunged or their charges reduced, others throughout the state will need to petition the court in order to do so. This is because no other city’s district attorneys have decided to review prior marijuana conviction of their own accord.
A big stumbling block is that many people with marijuana convictions do not realize they can petition for expungement or reduction. This, said Gascon, is why San Francisco decided to start automatically reviewing convictions. It is just one more way that San Francisco proves itself more “progressive” than other California cities. However, other cities, such as Oakland, are following San Francisco’s lead and are also considering automatic expungement or reduced sentences for those currently serving time for past marijuana convictions.
Have questions about your own marijuana conviction? Speak to our San Diego marijuana crime attorney at JD Law. For a free consultation about your case, please call (760) 630-2000.