San Francisco, CA — (RT) The San Francisco district attorney’s office has begun a process to expunge weed-related convictions from thousands of criminal records.
At a media conference Wednesday, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon estimated that his office will immediately dismiss 3,038 marijuana-related misdemeanors and begin reviewing another 4,940 marijuana-related felonies to be reclassified as misdemeanors.
“Today I’m announcing that the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office proactively will be dismissing misdemeanor cases, sealing the records of those who were convicted for marijuana offenses,” Gascon said.
He said because of the time and money it takes to petition the courts, there have only been around 20 people in San Francisco and 4,885 in the state who have started the process to have their cannabis convictions reversed.
Laura Thomas, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said there are more than 1 million Californians who could benefit from having their records expunged.
The district attorney said his office was motivated to make proactive changes after more than 75 percent of San Franciscans voted to pass Proposition 64. The voter initiative not only legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older, but also allowed anyone with a past marijuana conviction to petition state courts to recall or dismiss their case.
“The voters are giving us, as elected officials and as public officials, a clear direction,” Gascon said. “They’re tired of the war on drugs, they do not believe that was the right path to follow, and now it’s up to us to ensure that we not only implement the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law.”
Gascon said individuals who are eligible will not have to hire a lawyer or file any petitions as their cases “will be attended to without any action on their own.”
“The process will take no hearings, people will not have to hire attorneys, they will never have to come to our courts,” Gascon said. “Everything will be done proactively here, by the DA’s office.”