California lawmakers pass bill to erase old marijuana convictions

California lawmakers pass bill to erase old marijuana convictions
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The California state Senate voted this week to pass legislation that will help to expunge or reduce past marijuana-related convictions handed down before pot was legalized in the state.

The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday in a bipartisan vote of 22-8, almost three months after it was approved by the California State Assembly by a vote of 43-28, according to High Times.

The bill will require the California Justice Department to review past convictions from between 1975 and 2016 and identify cases that could be overturned or reduced by July of 2019. 

According to a report by CNN, more than 218,000 convictions could be either erased or reduced should Gov. Jerry Brown (D) sign the bill into law. 

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Marijuana has been at the center of criminal justice reform in recent years, as more states legalize the drug and activists call for past crimes, which disproportionately affect people of color, to be erased. 

According to the ACLU, a black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than a white person.

California is just one of several states looking at its past marijuana convictions. New Jersey is also reportedly looking at dropping some marijuana convictions.