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October 03, 2018, California
After legalizing all forms and uses of cannabis, the Golden State is dealing with the exhaustive work of expungement of past cannabis convictions. Several California cities and municipalities have initiated their own expungement procedures. In addition, the state administration also wants to streamline the process in the light of Proposition 64.
For that matter, Gov. Jerry Brown has ratified a bill this Sunday for the simplification of the process of expungement. The Assembly Bill 1793 was sponsored by Ron Bonta, a Democratic lawmaker from Oakland. California State Assembly approved the bill with a bipartisan vote of 43-28 at the end of May. After discussing and reviewing the bill for two months, the State Senate also voted in the favor of the bill by 22-8 in August.
Decriminalization of the drug and its retroactive application is a major stipulation of Proposition 64, the public ballot initiative that has legalized the adult-use consumption and sales of cannabis. The proposition mandates that all the past convictions for non-violent felonies involving possessing and distributing less than one ounce of the strain are qualified to get relegated to misdemeanors.
Nevertheless, getting this done on the ground is one cumbersome process. Reopening the past criminal record and then assessing whether the given conviction is eligible for expungement takes a lot of time and resources.
Bonta says that expungement of past cannabis convictions is central to give relief and redemption to the affected people. It is also essential for re-establishing the lives affected by the war on drugs. He says that the bill is written to fulfill the provision of past decriminalization as promised in Proposition 64.
Expungement and reduction is a long process
Expungement and reduction of past cannabis convictions is generally a lengthy administrative process. According to the Justice Department of the state, over 220,000 convictions are eligible for the expungement or reduction. Straightening out a single conviction case consumes a lot of court’s time and resources of the affectees. And here we are talking about literally hundreds and thousands of past cases.
Due to the overwhelming amount of work, some district attorneys have already excused themselves from the expungement proceedings because of the unavailability of required resources. Similarly, many affected citizens don’t have enough resources to complete the filing of necessary documentation with the appropriate court.
Cannabis groups have appreciated the ratification of AB 1793. For instance, the Drug Policy Alliance has termed the bill necessary for empowering the people to expunge their past convictions on their own. The law actually directs the Justice Department to streamline their work in order to make the process least expensive and less tiring for the citizens. The bill also entails reimbursement of certain costs to certain parties.
Past decriminalization is important
Dealing with past cannabis convictions is a major responsibility of any state that has legalized the strain. Having one’s name in the criminal record has many unwanted implications that result in dropping the quality of life.