Cannabis is now legal in California. But what about people who received sentences for cannabis offenses before Proposition 64 went into effect? Fortunately, the new law addresses this issue by providing cannabis offenders the ability to have their prior convictions reduced, and in some cases, vacated. But the process is not automatic, and going to court with an attorney may be necessary.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, in the last ten years, there have been around 500,000 arrests for cannabis offenses in the state of California. They estimate that around 1 million Californians may have reviewable cannabis convictions. Unfortunately, most of the people who qualify have yet to explore this option. People may believe the process is more complex than it really is and appearing in a courthouse is not everyone’s ideal scenario. Hoverer, by working with a knowledgeable and skilled attorney, the process can be fairly painless and provide you with a lot of relief.
As an experienced San Diego marijuana attorney, Jessica McElfresh is at the forefront of post-conviction relief, can help determine if you qualify, and seamlessly facilitate the process. To schedule a consultation, call (858) 756-7107 or submit a request online.
Many People Are Unable to Take Advantage of Prop 64 Rule
A lesser-known provision of Proposition 64–the ballot initiative that legalized recreational cannabis–allows people with cannabis-related convictions to get a second chance. This is a godsend for anyone with a cannabis offense who wants to apply for a job, college, or loan. The measure is also useful for non-citizens, who face potential deportation for drug offenses.
Specifically, the law applies to the following categories of offenders:
- People convicted of an offense that is no longer a crime–Possessing one ounce or less of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense. Anyone who was convicted of this offense in the past may now be eligible to have their conviction removed from their criminal record.
- People convicted of a crime that is now treated as a lesser offense–It is now a misdemeanor offense to possess with intent to sell more than an ounce of cannabis. In the past, offenders were subject to felony charges involving mandatory minimum sentences. Past offenders can now petition to have their conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, and to have their sentence reduced to a $500 fine and/or six months in jail.
These conviction reductions may not be available to repeat offenders, people with violent crimes on their record, or those who have sold cannabis to minors. The law states that the court will presume you are eligible for relief unless the prosecutor provides clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. For this reason, it is essential that you have an attorney to prepare your case for this eventuality.
San Diego and San Francisco Authorities Take the Initiative
Hundreds of thousands–if not millions–of Californians may be able to take advantage of the new law, but in the first two months of 2018, only 5,000 people had been willing to go through the process. So prosecutors in San Francisco and San Diego have taken matters into their own hands, and are pushing for the reduction of some offender’s sentences. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon stated: “We want to address the wrongs that were caused by the failures of the war on drugs for many years in this country and begin to fix the harm that was done not only to the entire nation but specifically to communities of color.”
In San Diego, prosecutors researched who was serving time or probation for qualifying offenses, and sent a list of names to the public defender’s office. Many of the affected offenders were freed almost immediately since the prosecutor didn’t challenge their release. According to Deputy District Attorney Rachel Solov: “If someone’s in custody and they shouldn’t be in custody anymore, we have an obligation to address that.”
Hundreds of offenders may have benefitted from a sentence reduction or vacated conviction in San Diego, but Californians in other jurisdictions aren’t so lucky. Many local authorities are reluctantly complying with California’s new cannabis laws, believing that the war on drugs should continue.
Contact a San Diego Marijuana Lawyer About Post-Conviction Relief
If you or a family member wants to have a cannabis sentence reduced, a San Diego marijuana lawyer can help. Call McElfresh Law today at (858) 756-7107 or submit a request online to schedule your free and confidential case consultation.