Californians can kiss goodbye to their cannabis convictions

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Thanks to cannabis legislation, life has already changed for a lot of Californians.

On January 1, 2018, recreational cannabis sales officially became legal in the state, where dispensaries opened their doors following the ruling; one that will bring in an estimated $3.7 billion by the end of the year.

Cannabis legalization is not the only good thing to happen to “The Golden State” this year.

Based on a new ruling under Proposition 64, individuals with cannabis convictions will have their convictions removed. Approximately one million state residents are expected to benefit from this new law, which may also grant currently convicted individuals voidance of their convictions.

“We want to reverse decades of marijuana convictions that can make it difficult for people to gain meaningful employment and disproportionately affect low-income minorities,” is a recent statement from California officials.

The changes will send a ripple of opportunity through black and brown communities, since those individuals will now be given the chance to apply for credit, vote, and will no longer have to tell potential employers that they previously held a cannabis-related conviction.

Between 2006 and 2015, just under 500,000 people in California had been convicted of cannabis crimes, according to the California Department of Human Resources (DPA).

“In November 2016 when Prop 64 passed, immediately, individuals that had charges that would have been either misdemeanors under Prop. 64 or completely legal under Prop 64 had the right to go back to court to petition to have records to be changed,” disclosed attorney Eric Shevin from the Shevin Law Group.

Is Carolina the only state to pass laws eliminating/reducing cannabis convictions?

Actually, no.

Nine other U.S. states have now passed these laws, as confirmed by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The aim is to decrease cannabis charges nationwide and ensure those individuals who were affected by the war on drugs are no longer treated unfairly.

Those punished (and still in bars) for committing a felon have already reacted to the introduction of Proposition 64, with as many as 4,500 petitions to expunge sentences or completely expel convictions having already been filed, on the report of California Judicial Council.

How can convicted Californians get their cannabis charges lessened?

After years of prejudiced minority associations were affected by cannabis-related convictions, Prop 64 has opened a world of opportunity for convicted Californians.

In order to have convictions reversed in accordance with the revised law, Californian convicts will be required to present their cases in a court. However, a positive ruling is not likely for a person who has more than one felony on their file history.

With a clean criminal record, formerly sentenced Californians can rehabilitate and merge into normal life much easier than they would be able to, had they not been given this opportunity.