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Published: Thu, February 01, 2018
Economy | By Melissa Porter

San Francisco will wipe out thousands of marijuana convictions dating back decades

San Francisco will wipe out thousands of marijuana convictions dating back decades

The district attorney said he thinks it might take them about a year to get the work done, explaining that it will take his office time to process the felony convictions through the courts.

Thousands of San Francisco residents convicted of marijuana offenses since 1975 will see those convictions dismissed or reduced under an effort announced on Wednesday by the city's district attorney. The San Francisco District Attorney's Office also plans to review more than 4,900 marijuana-related felony convictions.

California voted to legalize adult-use cannabis sales in 2016 by passing Proposition 64.

The legalization of recreational marijuana through the California's Proposition 64 included a provision that people who had been convicted of weed crimes that would not be a crime under Proposition 64 could petition to the courts to either re-review or dismiss their crimes, as we reported past year.

Proposition 64 legalizes, among other things, the possession and purchase of up to an ounce of marijuana and allows individuals to grow up to six plants for personal use. Those who were convicted of marijuana offenses will have their cases sealed. Up until now, those people had to apply to get their records expunged, often hiring an expensive lawyer to do so.

In San Francisco alone, more than 3,000 convictions will be cleared, and 4,900 felonies could be reduced to misdemeanors. But over the past year in San Francisco, only 23 people did so.

"It's this office that is leading the conversation across the entire country", said Cohen.

A bill requiring all California district attorneys to follow in Gascon's footsteps is being evaluated by California legislators.

Earlier this month, however, the U.S. Justice Department rescinded an Obama administration policy that had eased enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that legalized the drug, instead giving federal prosecutors wide latitude to pursue criminal charges.

Gascon said while the federal government appears to have taken a step "backwards" on drug policy, San Francisco will continue working to reverse the harms caused by the 47-year-old war on drugs.

"There are thousands of cases that are going to be dismissed at no cost", said San Francisco supervisor Malia Cohen. He also claims that the nation has failed to distinguish what is "dangerous" and what is a "nuisance" when it comes to drugs, hence breaking communities throughout the country.

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