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Seattle Joins San Francisco in Dismissing Marijuana Convictions

by Countable | 2.13.18

UPDATE - February 13, 2018: Seattle city officials have announced a plan to ask the city’s municipal court to vacate all misdemeanor pot possession convictions.

As the Seattle Times explained, “Since Washington legalized marijuana in 2012, some people have been stuck with criminal records for misdemeanor pot convictions while watching others make killings off the business of selling legal weed.”

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, described the move as a “necessary step to the right the wrongs” of a failed war on drugs that disproportionally affected poor communities of color.

“The war on drugs ended up being a war on people who needed help, who needed opportunity and who needed treatment,” Durkan said in a news conference. “We did little to stem the tide of the supply of drugs and instead incarcerated almost an entire generation of users who could have had a different way.”

Countable’s original story appears below.


San Francisco Dismissing Thousands of Marijuana Convictions

What’s the story?

Following California’s legalization of marijuana, prosecutors in San Francisco announced they will retroactively apply the law to pot-related convictions dating back to 1975.

Why does it matter?

As SF Gate explained, "Proposition 64…legalized the recreational use of marijuana in California for those 21 and older… The legislation also allows those with past marijuana convictions that would have been lesser crimes — or no crime at all — under Prop. 64 to petition a court to recall or dismiss their cases."

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said that his office will dismiss and seal 3,038 misdemeanor convictions, and review and possibly resentence up to 4,940 felony convictions, dating back to 1975.

Gascón said in a statement that his city is:

"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."

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), author of the Marijuana Justice Act, applauded the move on twitter:

Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Justice Department was ending the policy that allowed states to relax restrictions on recreational pot without the threat of federal interference.

What do you think?

Should states that legalize marijuana revisit pot-related convictions? Or should states respect federal marijuana laws? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your comments below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: matt_benoit / iStock)

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