New law allows Californians to expunge or reduce sentences for previous marijuana-related convictions A link has been sent to your friend’s email address. A person holding a cannabis leaf in the middle of a grow farm.
(Photo: Getty Images) Hailed by advocates as a chance for people to “reclaim their lives,” a new California law will soon make it easier for for people with past marijuana convictions to get their records expunged completely, or their sentences significantly reduced. Assembly Bill 1793—passed by overwhelming majority in the California state Legislature and signed into law Sunday night by Gov. Jerry Brown—will streamline a previously tedious process that made it difficult for residents with a prior cannabis-related conviction to clear their names. “This is transformative,” said Rodney Holcombe of the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York City-based national organization that advocates for human rights-driven drug policies. “This creates an opportunity for people to reclaim their lives.” California is not the first state to retroactively allow those with cannabis convictions a chance to reduce or completely remove their past; that distinction goes to Oregon, which legalized recreational weed in 2014. Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, plus the cities of San Francisco, Seattle and San Diego, have laws similar to Oregon’s, where individuals convicted of some marijuana-related crimes—like possession, cultivation or manufacturing — can work to get their records sealed or expunged. But California is the first state to automate the system, which lawmakers and bill supporters hope will be a game-changer for thousands of residents who have limited access to student loans, housing and jobs because of their criminal records. The Judicial Council of California estimates at least 218,000 residents would benefit from the new law. More: Cooking with cannabis growing in popularity as users seek more than just a sugar high “The failed war on drugs has, in so many ways, wreaked havoc, damage, pain and anguish on so many Californians,” said Assemblymember Ron Bonta (D-Oakland), who proposed the measure. Landmark California marijuana legislation gives residents chance to ‘reclaim their lives’
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