Thousands of people with misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession dating back 40 years will have their criminal records cleared, the San Francisco district attorney’s office said Wednesday. San Diego is also forgiving old convictions.
Recreational marijuana became legal in California this year, and the law allowed those with prior low-level offenses to petition for expungement, a process that can be costly.
But in San Francisco and San Diego, people need not ask. George Gascón, San Francisco’s district attorney, said his office would automatically erase convictions there, which total about 3,000.
An additional 4,900 felony marijuana charges will be examined by prosecutors to determine if they should be retroactively reduced to misdemeanors.
San Diego has identified 4,700 cases, both felonies and misdemeanors, that will be cleared or downgraded.
California was far from the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, but it is at the forefront of offering relief to people convicted of offenses that would not get them in trouble today.
A number of cities even decided to give preference to those who have previous marijuana convictions when giving out licenses to sell it legally. [Read more at The New York Times]