A landmark California marijuana legislation may result in many lives changed.
The new law, Assembly Bill 1793, will soon make it easier for people with past marijuana convictions to get their records expunged completely, or their sentences significantly reduced.
The law had been passed by overwhelming majority in the California state Legislature and was signed into law this past weekend by Gov. Jerry Brown. The previous process for people to clear their names with prior cannabis related convictions had been very difficult.
“This is transformative,” remarked Rodney Holcombe of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This creates an opportunity for people to reclaim their lives.”
Other states have already implemented their own laws to allow people with past cannabis convictions a chance to reduce or completely remove them. The states are: Oregon, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
“The failed war on drugs has, in so many ways, wreaked havoc, damage, pain and anguish on so many Californians,” said Assembly member Ron Bonta. Bonta had proposed the measure. He added, “This is where government can step in and make it better.
“It was so inaccessible for a variety of reasons,” said Holcombe. “This (new law) will empower people. My heart goes out to people who have had to navigate this process on their own. It’s confusing, expensive and tiring.”
Under this new law, California will do the work to clean up people’s records, even for people who do not know they are eligible. Starting Jan. 1, 2019, the Department of Justice will have seven months to review all marijuana cases and send potential petitions to county district attorneys. These DAs will have one year to challenge or grant the petition to change residents’ marijuana-related convictions. Priority will be given to the people who are currently serving time.