Newly Bill Drafted as California Expunges Marijuana Convictions
On Wednesday, California lawmakers approved a bill requiring the state’s Justice Department to review marijuana-related convictions.
The cases to be review go as far back as 1975; this would determine their eligibility for expunction.
The bill, which was passed by the State Senate, was introduced in January by Rob Bonta, a Democratic assemblyman.
The bill follows the approval of Proposition 64, a bill that was approved in 2016, legalizing marijuana for adult use and terminating many marijuana-related crimes.
Awaiting Governor Jerry Brown’s Signature
However, it did not provide any direction to which convictions or felonies should be expunged or reduced to misdemeanors.
Governor Jerry Brown has 12 days from the date it was passed to sign or veto the legislation.
If 12 days pass without Governor Brown’s signature the bill will become law without his consent.
Late last year, almost 150 people were exonerated by Governor Brown, 60 of whom were convicted on drug charges. 10 of these were pardons and sentence reductions on marijuana charges.
Bonta believes that the bill would reduce a lot of stress.
“The role of government should be to ease burdens and expedite the operation of law, not create unneeded obstacles, barriers, and delay.”
If the approved bill becomes law, the state will have the responsibility of cleaning up the records. The West Coast state will become a trailblazer for cannabis rights as California expunges marijuana convictions.
California’s Justice Department has until July 1, 2019, to determine which cases are eligible for review.
Those cases will then be presented to the district attorney’s office, which will have another year to make any objections.
In San Francisco, only 23 people attempted to have their charges expunged.
San Francisco’s District Attorney George Gascon explained that the process can be very expensive and awkward.
“The problem is that if you go through that process, you have to hire an attorney. You have to petition the court. You have to come for a hearing. It’s a very expensive and very cumbersome process.”
Recently, the state has taken steps to expunge and reduce convictions for possession and recreational marijuana charges going as far back as 1975.
Gascon explained that many of the people that were punished are those who cannot afford a lawyer.
“The reality is that the majority of the people that were punished and were the ones that suffered in this war on marijuana, the war on drugs nationally were people that can ill afford to pay an attorney.”
A Victory For Cannabis Rights
California is once again committed themselves to a just and reasonable policy. The state has long been a trailblazer in advocacy of cannabis rights. This dates back to their decision to legalize medicinal marijuana back in the days of the Clinton administration. One can only hope that other states who choose to and prohibition will take note as California expunges marijuana convictions