Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Sept. 30, 2018 that would allow past marijuana convictions to be recalled or dismissed. The bill will help hundreds of thousands of Californians convicted of weed crimes have felonies reduced to misdemeanors and lower-level offenses removed from their records.
The measure builds on the 2016 voter approval of Proposition 64 that legalized recreational cannabis in California and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
The measure requires that people with past convictions petition the courts to start the expungement process.
Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), who introduced the bill, said most people have not applied to change in their criminal records because they’re not aware of the opportunity, or because navigating the court system is too complicated, reported the Los Angeles Times.
“AB 1793 will bring people closer to realizing their existing rights by creating a simpler pathway for Californians to turn the page and make a fresh start,” Bonta said after his bill was signed. “Long after paying their debt to society, people shouldn’t continue to face the collateral consequences, like being denied a job or housing, because they have an outdated conviction on their records."
Bonta praised Brown’s decision, saying the proposal will help give people a second chance.
Bonta tweeted that his bill will “reduce or remove outdated cannabis convictions so people can turn the page and make a fresh start! Outdated convictions shouldn’t be a barrier to employment and housing.”
Bonta’s bill received support from the American Civil Liberties Union of California and criminal justice advocacy groups. There was no organized opposition.
The eligible convictions are required to be identified before July 1, 2019. Prosecutors will then have until July 1, 2020, to review and raise challenges against the eligible convictions. The courts will be required to reduce or dismiss the convictions that do not receive any challenges by July 1, 2020, noted the Jurist, a legal news and research publication.