The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office has announced plans to vacate the records of as many as 60,000 residents that have cannabis-related convictions on their records. George Gascón, the attorney general of America’s largest prosecutor office, says the changes will assist in unraveling the harms that prohibition has leveled upon citizens with convictions for actions that are currently legal in the state.
“Dismissing these convictions means the possibility of a better future to thousands of disenfranchised people who are receiving this long-needed relief. It clears the path for them to find jobs, housing, and other services that previously were denied to them because of unjust cannabis laws,” says a statement from Gascón’s office.
The prosecuting attorney has said he is thinking about joining with the public defender’s office to pursue a blanket court order that would have all cannabis conviction records sealed, including both felony and misdemeanor convictions, some of which are as much as thirty years old.
In 2021, Los Angeles County vacated roughly 66,000 cannabis-related convictions, according to California Department of Justice records. Those vacations were mandated by provisions in Proposition 64, a ballot measure approved by voters that legalized the adult use of cannabis in California.
Not everyone, however, is happy with the pace of the reforms, with critics claiming that momentum has been slow and that many potentially eligible cases have been missed because of the county’s heavy reliance on California DoJ records.
Gascón’s office has joined forces with the non-profit tech group Code for America to create an algorithm by which to identify other potential cases for analysis and review.
Additional California counties have already moved for the expunction of cannabis-related records in recent months, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Nevada, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, and San Diego. 200,000 Californians have reportedly had their cannabis conviction records expunged in the past several months.
Vivian McPeak is a Seattle based social justice activist, media personality, and writer. Vivian is the president of Seattle Events, a Non-Profit Organization, producer of the Seattle HEMPFEST®, the world’s largest annual cannabis policy reform rally. The recipient of the High Times Magazine 2012 Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award and DOPE Magazine 2016 Emery Award for lifetime achievement, and in 2016 he was named one of the “50 Most Influential People” by Seattle Magazine. Vivian has appeared on numerous television and cable news networks, including FOX News, CNN, & NBC. McPeak is the host of Hempresent, a weekly radio podcast on Cannabis Radio with listeners on multiple continents.