Seattle officials file motion to vacate marijuana convictions

Seattle officials file motion to vacate marijuana convictions
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Seattle officials announced Friday that they have filed a motion to vacate all convictions and drop all charges for marijuana possession for anyone arrested in the city in the past few decades.

A press release from the city states that the proposed move would affect 542 people who have convictions on their records.

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“Vacating charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession is a necessary step to correct the injustices of what was a failed war on drugs, which disproportionately affected communities of color in Seattle,” Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said in a statement.

"The war on drugs in large part became a war on people who needed opportunity and treatment. While we cannot reverse all the harm that was done, we must do our part to give Seattle residents — including immigrants and refugees — a clean slate," she added.

Voters in Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the state in 2012.

Durkan also expressed in the statement that marijuana policies adversely affect undocumented immigrant populations living in Washington state, creating an extra barrier to citizenship.

"Noncitizens have also been unduly burdened by these convictions, which can provide a roadblock to gaining citizenship, or in the worst case, can initiate deportation proceedings," she added.

Seattle's move to vacate convictions follows a similar move from Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who in February directed dozens of criminal charges of marijuana possession and announced he will no longer pursue charges in similar cases.

"I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do," Krasner said at the time. "We could use those resources to solve homicides."