State Watch

SF retroactively applying marijuana legalization, wiping out old convictions

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The city of San Francisco will retroactively apply the state’s new marijuana legalization law to past cases, a move that will wipe thousands of criminal convictions off the books, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced the move Wednesday and said that thousands of misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades will be expunged or reduced.

The decision will affect thousands of city residents whose convictions hurt their chances for employment or obtaining some government benefits.


The state of California legalized marijuana for recreational use under Proposition 64 in November 2016. Gascón said Wednesday that more than 3,000 misdemeanor cases dating back to 1975 will be dismissed and sealed.

Other cities across the state are pursuing similar measures, including Oakland, where Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D) has introduced a bill into the state assembly to “allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction.”

The Drug Policy Alliance estimates that at least 5,000 people have applied for marijuana convictions to be expunged since Proposition 64 was passed in the state.

California’s newly legal marijuana industry is already booming and is expected to sell 1 million pounds of the drug within its first year. State officials say that after taxes are levied, the cost of a pound of marijuana will settle at $4,600. Localities may also levy their own taxes on recreational pot.

–This report was updated on Feb. 1 at 10:30 a.m.

Tags California expungement Proposition 64 Recreational marijuana San Francisco
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