San Francisco will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases, District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday — expunging or reducing misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades.
The unprecedented move will affect thousands of people whose marijuana convictions brand them with criminal histories that can hurt chances of finding jobs and obtaining some government benefits.
Proposition 64, which state voters passed in November 2016, legalized the recreational use of marijuana in California for those 21 and older and permitted the possession up to 1 ounce of cannabis. The legislation also allows 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.
This is good news. After all, it’d be hypocritical to keep incarcerated those guilty only of what is now legal. What’s worse, it’d by racist to keep incarcerated the over-proportion of black and brown prisoners whose only crime was possession of pot, when the burgeoning pot industry is so very white.
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