Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón on Monday announced his office is going to dismiss almost 60,000 past marijuana convictions. Some reform advocates have said officials have been implementing such initiatives to atone for the past negative implications of marijuana-related convictions after Californians eventually voted yes to its legalization, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The recent announcement also comes after former District Attorney Jackie Lacey dismissed 66,000 marijuana convictions last year. That was prior to Californians casting their ballots for the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.
And though Lacey’s office gathered the data for such convictions through records from the California Department of Justice, Gascón said his office was able to trace more of such cases by scrutinizing L.A. County court records.
“Dismissing these convictions means the possibility of a better future to thousands of disenfranchised people who are receiving this long-needed relief,” said Gascón in the statement. “It clears the path for them to find jobs, housing and other services that previously were denied to them because of unjust cannabis laws.”
Gascón has long been an advocate of righting the wrongs of such convictions as he deems them to be racially disparate. The ACLU reports that though marijuana use among Blacks and Whites is “roughly equal”, Black people are still “3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.”
The non-profit organization also states that it costs the United States about $3.6 billion annually to enforce marijuana laws. However, the “War on Marijuana has failed to diminish the use or availability of marijuana.”
A spokeswoman for the L.A. County district attorney’s office, Jean Guccione, said around 20,000 of the yet-to-be dismissed convictions were related to felony possession or cultivation of marijuana, The Los Angeles Times reported. The rest were misdemeanors whose cases were filed in jurisdictions without city attorney’s offices.
Gascón also said he plans for his office to liaise with the office of the public defender to file for a “blanket” court order that would seal the records of the convictions to be dismissed. “Over 100,000 Angelenos have been impacted by this war on marijuana after the voters told us they overwhelmingly wanted to stop this.… We want to basically erase the harm,” Gascón said.
During his time as San Francisco’s top prosecutor, Gascón also worked to similarly dismiss almost 9,000 marijuana-related convictions.