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It may now be easier to clear cannabis convictions in California

With the passing of California's cannabis legalization measures – proposition 64 – many people previously convicted on marijuana-related charges want to make those convictions disappear. The proposition makes this possible, but the workloads state district attorneys bear also make it challenging. DAs across the state recently made public statements about how their counties will handle cannabis conviction modification and expungement.

The majority of DAs in the state have indicated that they can only respond to requests for review on a case-by-case basis. This means that former cannabis defendants need to request case revisions before any action can or will be taken. Specific areas with this approach include Los Angeles, Mendocino and Sacramento.

Two areas that bucked this trend are San Diego and San Francisco. The DAs here have announced that they intend to "unilaterally review more than 12,000 felony or misdemeanor" marijuana cases to expunge or revise the original charges. Of particular note, San Francisco DA has promised that his office would take the initiative and sort through past cases on its own with a goal of revising or expunging convictions when possible.

Statements made by the state's DAs have sparked a great amount of discussion. For example, many district attorneys are curious to see how San Francisco's DA intends to keep his promise to review and modify cannabis convictions on such a wide scale. These DAs do not think this is a wise use of prosecutorial resources.

Those who have prior cannabis convictions on their records have several options to clear their records. They can use the state's online resources to request a review without attorney assistance. However, some of the more complicated cases will likely benefit from assistance by a criminal defense attorney.

Source: Leafly, "DAs Making it Easier to Clear California Cannabis Convictions," Peter Hecht, Feb. 12, 2018

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