California Passes Bill to Automatically Expunge Old Marijuana Convictions

One of the most celebrated aspects of California's new marijuana legalization laws was the creation of a pathway for people with previous cannabis convictions to get their records expunged. And now a new bill will make that pathway even easier.

Last night California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that streamlines the process for people to expunge their old marijuana convictions. The old process required individuals with these convictions to petition the court to have it expunged. This was often a lengthy and complicated process, and possibly expensive if the person hired a lawyer to handle it for them.

The new process instead will see the California Department of Justice send petitions to District Attorneys around the state identifying people who can have their records expunged or their sentences reduced. The District Attorneys will then have the option to allow the reduction or expungement, or they can challenge it. The hope is that the Attorneys will avoid needless legal hassles for themselves and simply grant most of the reductions and expungements.

The state estimates around 200,000 people will have their records erased thanks to this process.

Even people who've finished serving jail time can feel the effects of a marijuana conviction. It can prevent them receiving housing, a loan or employment. 

While other states have passed bills that allow people to get their records expunged, California is the first state that is putting the responsibility on itself and handling the process automatically.

So once again California is a model for other states when it comes to cannabis.

(h/t USA Today)

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