San Francisco Will Erase Thousands Of Marijuana Convictions

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The city of San Francisco is taking a major step in rectifying the failed “war on drugs” that has disproportionately targeted black people. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced Wednesday (Jan. 31) that the city will be erasing thousands of marijuana convictions.   

Gascón confirmed in a series of tweets, that the city plans to review, recall and re-sentence nearly 5,000 felony marijuana convictions, in addition to “dismissing and sealing” more than 3,000 misdemeanor sentences.   

The expungement was made possible under Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state.   

“Today’s announcement covers effectively all the marijuana convictions adjudicated in San Francisco’s courts since 1975. The #WarOnDrugs was a failure, it’s time we take action to undo the damage it has done,” Gascón tweeted.   

He went on to explain that while Prop 64 makes expungement possible, a petition has to be filed in order to be eligible:

Following the announcement, the American Civil Liberties Union applauded Gascón for upholding “the will of Californians who voted to legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana” and for “proactively” helping those with past weed convictions.

“A past marijuana-related conviction can be a lifelong barrier to housing, employment, or recovery, depending on what you look like, how much money you have, and where you are from,” ACLU Criminal Justice Director Ana Zamora said in a statement. “Although Proposition 64 provided a way for people to petition the court to get relief from past marijuana convictions, the process is not automatic and depends upon the person learning of their rights under the new law and initiating the court process.

“By committing to proactively review, resentence, and dismiss past marijuana convictions, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office has demonstrated its commitment to repairing some of the harm done by the twin failures of mass incarceration and the war on drugs both disproportionately affect young people, people of color, and people suffering from untreated mental illness.”