By Rachel Dovey.
San Francisco’s top law enforcement office will dismiss and seal more than 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions dating back to 1975, District Attorney George Gascón announced Wednesday.
The move comes roughly a year after California voters passed Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older and allowed legal users to carry up to one ounce of cannabis. The law also allowed residents with past marijuana convictions to petition the state’s courts to recall or dismiss their cases.
But instead of leaving it up to individuals to make those petitions — a process that can cost hundreds of dollars in attorney fees — Gascón said in a press conference Wednesday that his office will review and wipe out convictions en masse, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The civic case for decriminalization is two-fold: It spares millions of dollars in police budgets and, more importantly, improves discriminatory policing. Marijuana use is roughly equal among black and white U.S. citizens, according to the ACLU, but blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for possession. In San Francisco, black residents were four times as likely as whites to be arrested for possession in 2013, according to the Chronicle.