San Francisco city officials have proposed a plan to expunge over 9,000 marijuana-related convictions dating back to 1975.
Since legalizing marijuana in 2016, many cities across the state of California are proposing similar plans to expunge records, but San Francisco has been the first to follow through. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón told the Los Angeles Times, “It was the morally right thing to do…If you have a felony conviction, you are automatically excluded in so many ways from participating in your community.”
Gascón’s office is looking to expunge the 9,362 cases, both felony, and misdemeanor. Until this new resolution was passed, only 23 people filed formal paperwork to have their records expunged, due in large part to the tedious expungement process:
“You have to hire an attorney. You have to petition the court. You have to come for a hearing,” said Gascón. “It’s a very expensive and very cumbersome process. And the reality is that the majority of the people that were punished and were the ones that suffered in this war on marijuana, war on drugs nationally, were people that can ill afford to pay an attorney.”
Despite the widespread approval of the expungement plan, some aren’t too pleased. California Narcotics Officers Association legislative counsel John Lovell said of the resolution:
“To simply embark on an across-the-board expungement of 9,300 without looking at any of the surrounding factors on any of those cases strikes us as cavalier irresponsibility.”