Tens of thousands of Los Angeles marijuana convictions have been reviewed and deemed eligible for dismissal in an effort to undo some of the damage caused before the drug was legalized in the state.
L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón announced the decision to dismiss almost 60,000 convictions on Monday, Sept. 27, and stated that he hopes that the rulings will help those affected by the prior “unjust cannabis laws” be able to lead more fulfilling lives.
“Dismissing these convictions means the possibility of a better future to thousands of disenfranchised people who are receiving this long-needed relief,” he said in a statement. “It clears the path for them to find jobs, housing and other services that previously were denied to them because of unjust cannabis laws.”
Gascón sought to have cases dismissed dating back decades, as early as the mid-1970s. The additional batch will bring the total number of felony and misdemeanor marijuana convictions identified for dismissal in the county since last year to about 124,000.
“Over 100,000 Angelenos have been impacted by this war on marijuana after the voters told us they overwhelmingly wanted to stop this.… We want to basically erase the harm,” he said.
Jean Guccione, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County district attorney’s office, told the press that approximately 20,000 of the convictions expected to be expunged under Gascón’s Monday order were for felony possession or cultivation of marijuana, while the rest were misdemeanors filed in jurisdictions that do not have their own city attorney’s offices.
In addition to the dismissals, Gascón is working toward putting a “blanket” court order in place to seal the records of those affected and plans to work with the public defender’s office to do so.
Local nonprofit The Social Impact Center helped the county identify the latest batch of cases up for eligibility. The center’s executive director is glad to see steps being taken forward.
“I have made it my life mission to help and support people who have been impacted by the ‘war on drugs,’ ” said Felicia Carbajal, executive director, The Social Impact Center. “Giving people with cannabis convictions a new lease on life by expunging the records is something I have worked on for years and I am grateful that we can now make it happen.”
California voters approved Proposition 64, the initiative in support of the legalization of recreational marijuana and expungement of prior related convictions, in November 2016.