The District Attorney’s office in Los Angeles County announced it will vacate the records of nearly 60,000 residents with cannabis-related convictions.
The attorney general of the country’s largest prosecutor office, George Gascón, said the move would help undo the ongoing harms faced by people with cannabis convictions for offenses that are now legal.
“Dismissing these convictions means the possibility of a better future to thousands of disenfranchised people who are receiving this long-needed relief. It clears the path for them to find jobs, housing and other services that previously were denied to them because of unjust cannabis laws,” a statement from Gascón’s office reads.
Gascón is considering teaming up with the public defender’s office to pursue a “blanket” court order that would seal these records. The cases slated to be dismissed include both felony and misdemeanor convictions, some of which go back three decades.
Last year, Los Angeles County officials vacated around 66,000 cannabis-related convictions as identified using California Department of Justice records. The move was stipulated by provisions in Proposition 64 – a voter-approved ballot measure that legalized adult-use marijuana in California.
However, critics claim the process has been slow and missed many potential eligible cases through its over-reliance on California DoJ records.
To find the new eligible cases, Gascon’s office teamed up with nonprofit tech organization Code for America to develop an algorithm that can identify such cases for further review.
Other California counties have also moved to expunge marijuana-related records in the past few months, including in Alameda, Contra Costa, Nevada, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Diego. In total, an estimated 200,000 Californians have seen their cannabis criminal records expunged in this time.
California isn’t alone in taking measures to seal marijuana-related criminal records following legalization. Illinois has so far processed around 500,000 cases, while New Jersey, which legalized recreational marijuana earlier this year, has dismissed more than 360,000 cases.