As California enters its second full year of marijuana legalization, legal weed enterprises, farms, and dispensaries are booming. The state of California itself made brought in around $74.2 million in marijuana industry tax revenue during the second quarter of 2018 alone.
Yet for some California residents, legalization came too late. Until this week, marijuana convictions still served as a black mark on the criminal records of thousands of Californians- many who had been convicted on counts of minor possession.
Yet that is about to change as San Francisco law enforcement officials announced on Monday a plan to expunge more than 9,000 marijuana convictions dating back to 1975.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said that “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 went on to explain how those with felonies and even misdemeanors often have trouble securing jobs, finding places to live, or receiving public assistance.
Despite the fact that the city had been open to receiving petitions from citizens to clear their records, few (less than 25) had begun the formal process due to its complex nature and the time and money involved in petitioning the court through a cumbersome and confusing system. The wide sweeping measure would automatically expunge 9,362 marijuana-related felony and misdemeanor cases.
While other California municipalities had taken similar measures to expunge old marijuana offenses from criminal records, San Francisco is the largest city in California make such an announcement. Marijuana activists hope that many other major cities will follow suit and that marijuana prohibition can fade into a distant past memory as the state continues to enjoy its newfound natural resource and revenue stream.