The California State Legislature approved a landmark bill on Wednesday that requires California prosecutors to retroactively erase or reduce thousands of criminal convictions for marijuana-related offences.
Hopefully the move, which now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, will be an effective attempt help to those convicted of non-violent drug crimes move on with their lives.
Back in 2016, voters passed Proposition 64 allowing adult use of marijuana in the state, eliminating several long-held pot-related crimes. In theory, the proposition also applied retroactively to those who have been convicted, but in effect, it provided no process for those eligible to erase their conviction.
This new bill is an attempt to change that. It orders the state Department of Justice to identify eligible cases since 1975, and send them along to the appropriate prosecutors. According to the Associated Press, the state DOJ estimates that almost 220,000 cases are eligible the be reduced or erased entirely.
Of the bill, Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener said that it "creates a simpler pathway for Californians to turn the page."
The bill passed the Senate with a significant 22-8 vote - more impressive still was its bipartisan agreement between parties on the issue, a political rarity these days, although this becomes less surprising once you learn the reason behind Republican support.
"This bill will take those people off the prohibited [gun] list, save us time and money," said Republican State Sen. Joel Anderson.
Ah, there it is. Oh well. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.
As positive as this action has the potential to be, there is still a lot of heavy lifting to be done on behalf of prosecutors to help repair the injustices done to people convicted of marijuana-related crimes in the state.