In what's being billed as the largest purge of its kind in California, the Los Angeles County District Attorney announced Thursday that nearly 66,000 marijuana convictions will be dismissed, thanks in part to newly passed state laws.
The announcement by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said the cases include 62,000 felony convictions for marijuana sales and cultivation that date back to 1961. Another 4,000 misdemeanor possession cases were also dismissed.
"The dismissal of tens of thousands of old cannabis-related convictions in Los Angeles County will bring much-needed relief to communities of color that disproportionately suffered the unjust consequences of our nation's drug laws," Lacey said in a news release.
"I am privileged to be part of a system dedicated to finding innovative solutions and implementing meaningful criminal justice reform that gives all people the support they need to build the life they deserve," she added.
About 53,000 people will see conviction relief due to the mass dismissal. About 45% of those affected are Latino, 32% are black, and 20% are white.
The conviction relief comes after California voters gave the thumbs up to the legalization of recreational marijuana after approving Proposition 64 in November 2016. The proposition also allowed people to petition the judicial system to have their records expunged. In 2018, state lawmakers went even further, approving AB 1793, which required the Department of Justice to go through conviction records in California and find cannabis convictions that were eligible to be expunged or downgraded to misdemeanors.
More than 218,000 convictions statewide are thought to be eligible for conviction relief, the Department of Justice said.
The L.A. County District Attorney's office worked with Clear My Record, a service that assists those with nonviolent marijuana convictions.
“This is a clear demonstration that automatic record clearance is possible at scale and can help to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs. Looking forward, Code for America stands at the ready to help all California counties provide this much needed relief in advance of the July 1, 2020 deadline, ” said Evonne Silva, Code for America’s Senior Program Director of Criminal Justice.
Clear My Record has assisted prosecutors in dismissing about 85,000 marijuana convictions across the state, Silva said.
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