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San Francisco dismisses thousands of old marijuana cases

By
Danielle Haynes
Pro-medical marijuana demonstrators protest outside a fundraiser for President Barack Obama at the Fox Theater in Oakland, Calif., on July 23, 2012. On Wednesday, San Francisco announced it would proactively expunge misdemeanor marijuana convictions in light of a new law legalizing pot in the state. File Photo by David Yee/UPI
Pro-medical marijuana demonstrators protest outside a fundraiser for President Barack Obama at the Fox Theater in Oakland, Calif., on July 23, 2012. On Wednesday, San Francisco announced it would proactively expunge misdemeanor marijuana convictions in light of a new law legalizing pot in the state. File Photo by David Yee/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The misdemeanor and felony marijuana convictions of thousands of people will be dismissed or reviewed after San Francisco decided Wednesday to retroactively apply California's legalization laws to decades-old criminal cases, the district attorney said.

The city had given people with criminal history the chance to have their cases expunged, or charges and sentences reduced immediately after the law legalizing recreational marijuana went into effect Jan. 1.

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But according to statistics from Drug Policy Alliance, not everyone eligible for the relief took advantage of it. Some 4,800 Californians obtained legal representation and petitioned the courts to have their cases reviewed.

Thousands others haven't had the time or money to take action, District Attorney George Gascon said.

"Expungement relief is available under #Prop64," he said of the law voted upon in November 2016, "but it requires people to know about the available relief and to retain an attorney to file the petition.

"Instead of waiting for the community to take action, we're taking action for the community!"

Gascon said the city is dismissing and sealing 3,038 misdemeanor marijuana convictions from before the passage of Proposition 64. It is reviewing and re-sentencing up to 4,940 felony convictions.

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That includes all marijuana convictions in San Francisco courts since 1975.

"The #WarOnDrugs was a failure, it's time we take action to undo the damage it has done," Gascon said. "A misdemeanor or felony conviction can have significant implications for employment, housing and other benefits."

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