San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced that his office will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases. This means San Francisco will expunge and seal the records of misdemeanor marijuana offenders, the San Francisco Chronicle reported today.
This decision was announced by George Gascón at a news conference. The San Francisco District Attorney was joined by city supervisors, the director of the city’s Office of Cannabis, the Drug Policy Alliance reform group, and the president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP.
California legalized recreational marijuana in November. Voters approved Proposition 64, the LA Times reported, making California the most populous state in the nation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Californians who are 21 and older can possess, transport, and buy up to 28.5 grams of marijuana.
The same proposition that legalized recreational marijuana in the American coastal state allows offenders to petition for resentencing. That is, it allows it if their crime would have received a different penalty under the new law.
Proposition 64, the 2016 referendum item that legalized recreational marijuana in California, allows marijuana offenders to petition for re-sentencing if their crime would have received a different penalty, or no penalty at all, under the new law. An individual can petition a court to recall or dismiss their case, but not everyone has the money for legal feels or the time to go through the entire process.
However, instead of waiting for individual petitions, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón will speed up the entire process. Mr. Gascón and his office will immediately dismiss and seal over 3 thousand misdemeanor marijuana convictions in San Francisco, some of which date back to the 1970s.
Thousands of people whose marijuana convictions branded them with criminal histories can now rest at ease. Obtaining government benefits and finding jobs will not be as difficult any more. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, around 5,000 Californians have already petitioned the courts, hoping to have their marijuana convictions expunged.
But, that is not all San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón’s office will do. Offenders who received a felony marijuana conviction will also be resentenced.
Meanwhile, social media is already buzzing with news about the DA’s decision, which seems to have caused celebration among marijuana enthusiasts all over California, who hope their cities will follow in San Francisco’s footsteps.