One of the major points of California's new recreational marijuana law was the creation of a pathway for people with cannabis convictions to get their records expunged. But the city of San Francisco is taking that aspect as step farther.
The city of San Francisco announced that they will be expunging or reducing marijuana misdemeanors and felonies dating all the way back to 1975. The San Francisco district attorney will review and re-sentence over 5,000 cannabis related felonies and another 3,000 misdemeanors will be expunged.
"While drug policy on the federal level is going backward, San Francisco is once again taking the lead to undo the damage that this country's disastrous, the failed drug war has had on our nation and on communities of color in particular," said District Attorney George Gascón.
California's new marijuana laws created a pathway to expunge records, so why is San Francisco's new policy so important? Weren't these records going to be expunged anyways? Not necessarily. Under California law, citizens with marijuana records had to petition the courts to reduce or expunge their sentences, and then a special judicial board would decide whether or not to do so. According to Gascón, only 23 people petitioned to have their records expunged in the last year.
So only 23 people used the state approved method for expunging records, meanwhile San Francisco's new policy will allow more than 8,000 records to be changed.
Perhaps other cities will follow San Francisco's lead and take a proactive approach to getting these records cleared instead of hoping citizens do so themselves.