On Monday (September 27th), Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced that the country will dismiss roughly 58,000 cannabis-related convictions.
The initiative to dismiss the convictions was started when the state legalised the recreational use of cannabis by passing Proposition 64 in November 2016. Among other things, Prop 64 included a directive for the government to identify and dismiss convictions that would be legal in California today. This includes cannabis possession and the cultivation of small cannabis gardens (among other things).
This is only the latest set of convictions the government has handled since cannabis legalisation nearly six years ago. Last year, the county dismissed 66,000 convictions that pre-dated the passing of Proposition 64. However, these dismissals only included convictions from the state’s Department of Justice data.
This week’s dismissals are part of Assembly Bill 1793, which was passed in 2018. These dismissals include felony and misdemeanour cases from the past thirty years. The District Attorney’s office identified some of these cases by searching LA County court records.
The convictions expunged this week will also be sealed, meaning they won’t be readily available to the public. According to Gascón, sealing the records will give the people who hold the convictions “the possibility of a better future” and “long-needed relief” from the institutional impacts of cannabis prohibition.
It clears the path for them to find jobs, housing and other services that were previously denied to them because of unjust cannabis laws.
Gascón has been working on this project for several years now, as he was one of the authors of Prop 64. However, his work isn’t over yet, as California’s latest round of conviction dismissals are only another step towards righting the wrongs of prohibition in the US.