San Francisco will to throw out more than 3,000 pot crime convictions and consider erasing nearly 5,000 more in a retroactive application of California’s recent legalization of marijuana.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, a Democrat, made the announcement Wednesday, saying the city’s judges will be reconsidering cases going back to 1975, WTVA reported. The Proposition 64 marijuana legalization bill allows permits to possess small amounts of recreational cannabis and allows residents to apply for the state to retroactively expunge old convictions. Gascón, however, says city officials will do the applications themselves. The city will expunge 3,038 misdemeanor marijuana convictions and judges will be handling an additional 4,940 felony convictions on a case-by-case basis.
“We have an opportunity to lead the way,” Gascón told reporters. “What we want to make sure is … that people who were really the victims of the war on drugs, in general terms, and are people that are trying to get their lives in the right direction, that they get relief they deserve. We have damaged a lot of people in our community.”
The city’s initiative means that no one will need to pay for an attorney, show up in court, or file any paperwork. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)office in San Francisco praised the decision, saying it would help black people in the city “who’ve been the victims of an unjust criminal justice system [and] denied equality of opportunity.”
Members of the state government were also supportive of the decision, agreeing with the NAACP that the previous marijuana policies were “discriminatory.”
“This example, one of many across our state, underscores the true promise of Proposition 64 – providing new hope and opportunities to Californians, primarily people of color, whose lives were long ago derailed by a costly, broken and racially discriminatory system of marijuana criminalization,” California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement.
The 4,940 felony convictions are unlikely to be expunged completely, but many could receive a sentence reduction.
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