San Francisco Wipes Out 8,000 Marijuana Convictions with Computer Program

Many states and cities are taking on the initiative to wipe out old marijuana convictions as they pursue cannabis legalization. But the city of San Francisco has modernized the effort.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced yesterday that his office will wipe out more than 8,000 marijuana convictions automatically. Gascón's office teamed up with an organization called Code for America, a non-profit that uses open-source technology to help improve the government. Code for America set up a program that identified all marijuana cases from 1975 to now that are eligible for expungement under California's new laws. Gascón will now take the more than 8,000 eligible cases in front of a judge and ask for expungement.

While many cities and states are offering expungement for old marijuana crimes, the process is often confusing or expensive. For example, California's had an expungement process in place since recreational marijuana became legal last year, yet Gascón said only 23 people had asked for an expungement. That's 23 out of more than 8,000 possible cases that underwent the formal process without the automatic program.

So clearly this automatic program will benefit far more people than normal expungement laws. Perhaps other cities and states should follow suit.

(h/t San Franciso Chronicle)


California may have been the first in the country to pioneer cannabis law reform, but the Golden State is still struggling to eliminate the black market and sell affordable, legal pot. In 1996, California voters passed Prop 215 to legalize medical marijuana. In the years immediately following its passage, medical cannabis was a small and largely unregulated affair.

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