Courts and DOJ, Required to Complete the Job of Dismissing or Redesignating Old Marijuana Convictions.
In 2016, Proposition 64, and in 2018, AB 1793, told Californians that the records of low-level marijuana-related arrests and convictions would be automatically sealed in light of the fact that cannabis was now legal under state law, allowing people to move on with their lives without serving the life sentence of dealing with the collateral consequences which often result from having a criminal history. While AB 1793 required the automatic sealing of cannabis records, the records of tens of thousands throughout the state have not yet been sealed.
In a state where more than 12,000 cannabis licenses have been issued, California has a moral and economic imperative to not leave tens of thousands of residents with cannabis criminal records behind, especially those people of color, disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs.
Data suggests that many who are eligible for resentencing or redesignation are unaware of the process established by the initiative, or lack the resources to navigate the process on their own. To address this, AB 1793, created an automatic process for certain marijuana-related convictions, and established the following deadlines:
Unfortunately, neither Proposition 64 nor AB 1793 set forth a deadline by which local courts needed to process the challenges, nor did they include a deadline for the DOJ to update its criminal record database. According to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times, there are at least 34,000 cannabis-related records that still have not been fully processed by the courts, despite the long-passed January 1, 2020 deadline.
Following the passage of AB 1706 this past year, all convictions eligible for relief under Proposition 64 that have not been challenged by the prosecution as unchallenged are deemed recalled, dismissed and/or redesignated, as applicable. This bill would establish a deadline of March 1, 2023 for the courts, on their own accord, to automatically resentence or redesignate all eligible convictions, in cases where the prosecution did not file a challenge by the original January 1, 2020 deadline. This bill further requires that the courts update their records and report all convictions that have been recalled and redesignated to the DOJ by March 1, 2023, and requires the DOJ update its records in the state summary criminal history database by no later than July 1, 2023.
With any luck, this will help thousands through the state move on with their lives in a more productive manner.
If you need help with any pending drug-related charge in the North Bay, reach out to Devina here.
 The Truth About California’s Promise To Clear Marijuana Convictions, Los Angeles Times.
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