SAN FRANCISCO, Cal – District Attorney George Gascon has maintained that San Francisco will terminate all marijuana convictions dating to 1975, which, as a result, will blot out arrest records for any individual with related charges. Furthermore, the same city intends to review all marijuana-related felonies registered during the said time frame. In connection with the case reviews is the re-sentencing of misdemeanor offences in appropriate cases in which penalties can be lessen.
D.A Gascon argued that a criminal conviction can be an obstacle to employment and other privileges, so instead of waiting for the community to take action, the government should take action for the community.
In light of the California Law which legalized recreational marijuana, the decision was summed on account of the spirit of the law. According to Gascon, the legislative intent of the new law speaks of people who were convicted of marijuana crimes to be given a second chance. The new law retroacts to cases way back to 1975, which allows people with marijuana misdemeanor to have their records wiped clean and those with marijuana-related convictions to be given the opportunity to have a reduced penalty, pending review.
As per Gascon, the District Attorney’s office will automatically dismiss 3,038 misdemeanor cases within the time frame. Moreover, Prosecutors will also review up to 4,940 felony convictions and reduce appropriate cases to misdemeanors.
For a record to be expunged, the person convicted of marijuana convictions must petition to the court, which according to lawyers will make it difficult for residents with low income to have their records amended. Hence, Gaston’s rationale for automatically changing and reviewing conviction cases.
To back his claim, Gason cited Proposition 64 and said that within Prop. 64, there’s a provision for the people to petition the court, but that involves hiring an attorney, and that he doesn’t think that was the voter’s intent. He further reiterated that they could dismiss all the misdemeanour cases en masse with the court’s assistance of the court, and then go back and review all of the convictions to see who would qualify to be re-sentenced to a misdemeanour.
Racial discrepancies in marijuana convictions were also noted in the District Attorney’s office, which led to Gascon with his statement that the city wants to deal with the wrongs caused by the failures of the war on drugs in this country. He also added that the city wants to begin to mend some of the harm done not only to the entire nation but specifically to communities of colour.
Based on the statistics made by the DA, in the year 2010, African-Americans made up about half of the cannabis-related misdemeanors and convictions and marijuana convictions, yet they represent only 6 percent of the city’s total population.
District Attorney Gascon seeks to address not only the ‘failures on the war on drugs’ but also ‘harm done… [xxx] … specifically to communities of colour’.
Aside from San Francisco, at least 9 states also have laws that address the expungement of marijuana convictions.