Thousands of SF marijuana convictions to go up in smoke, DA applying new pot legalization laws all the way back to 1975

San Francisco plans to retroactively apply California's new marijuana legalization laws to thousands of pre-existing pot related convictions, the SF district attorney's office announced Wednesday. Thousands of misdemeanors and felonies dating to 1975 will either be expunged or reduced, and the lives of people convicted of those crimes will be changed for the better.

"While drug policy on the federal level is going backwards, San Francisco is once again taking the lead to undo the damage that this country's disastrous, failed drug war has had on our nation and on communities of color in particular," SF DA Gascón today said in a statement.

"Long ago we lost our ability to distinguish the dangerous from the nuisance, and it has broken our pocketbooks, the fabric of our communities, and we are no safer for it."

Reports the Los Angeles Times,

Nearly 5,000 felony marijuana convictions will be reviewed, recalled and resentenced, and more than 3,000 misdemeanors that were sentenced prior to Proposition 64's passage will be dismissed and sealed, Dist. Atty. George Gascón said. The move will clear people's records of crimes that can be barriers to employment and housing.

San Francisco's move could be the beginning of a larger movement to address old pot convictions, though it's still far from clear how many other counties will follow the famously liberal city's lead.

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. The measure also allows people convicted of marijuana possession crimes eliminated by Proposition 64 to petition the courts to have those convictions expunged from their records as long as the person does not pose a risk to public safety.

They also can petition to have some crimes reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, including possession of more than an ounce of marijuana by a person who is 18 or older.

Gascón's announcement today follows the recent death of one of medical marijuana's most renowned advocates.

Dennis Peron died on Saturday, and worked for decades to advance the use of marijuana by AIDS/HIV patients.

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