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  • California Judge Approves Elimination of 66,000 Marijuana Convictions

California Judge Approves Elimination of 66,000 Marijuana Convictions

RJ Balde


“The dismissal of tens of thousands of old cannabis-related convictions in Los Angeles

County will bring much-needed relief to communities of color that disproportionately suffered the unjust consequences of our nation’s drug laws,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “I am privileged to be part of a system dedicated to finding innovative solutions and implementing meaningful criminal justice reform that gives all people the support they need to build the life they deserve.”



On Thursday, a Los Angeles, California judge granted the dismissal of 62,000 felony marijuana convictions, some of which date back to 1961. Another 4,000 misdemeanor marijuana possession cases were permitted for erasure as requested by Lacey’s office. In total, 66,000 cannabis convictions are to be eliminated or reduced. 


Los Angeles County has teamed with Code for America, a government-centered digital service company, which has developed a program to search through existing cases and identify those that qualify for the program. 


“This is a clear demonstration that automatic record clearance is possible at scale and can help to right the wrongs of the failed War on Drugs,” said Evonne Silva, Code for America's senior program director of criminal justice.



Of the approximately 53,000 individuals that have received conviction relief through this partnership thus far, roughly 45% are Latinx, 32% are Black or African American, 20% are White and 3% are other or unknown.


The judge’s ruling finalizes the five-county Clear My Record pilot to clear marijuana-related convictions eligible for relief under Proposition 64.


“Today’s action marks the completion of our California Clear My Record pilot, through which we will have helped to dismiss and seal more than 85,000 marijuana convictions across the state,” said Silva. “Looking forward, Code for America stands at the ready to help all California counties provide this much needed relief in advance of the July 1, 2020 deadline.”


“The Clear My Record Application allows District Attorneys to securely and accurately

evaluate eligibility for convictions by reading and interpreting criminal history data from the California Department of Justice. Code for America has received an overwhelming interest from counties in accessing these resources to carry out the law,” reads the statement. “Code for America stands ready to work with counties that have not yet used this technology to help them automate the record clearance process and provide relief as required by law.”



The War on Drugs has had a disproportionately severe effect on communities of color throughout California and the country. According to a 2016 study, “There were striking differences in the racial makeup of marijuana only incarcerations between Los Angeles and the rest of the state, and blacks are grossly overrepresented. Only 8% of Los Angeles County residents are black, yet they make up 30% of people jailed for marijuana only offenses in the county. Comparatively, Latinos account for nearly half (49%) of the county’s population, but make up 42% of those jailed, and whites are 27% of the population, but make up 20% of the jailed population.”


According to officials, Code for America will have now assisted in dismissing an excess of 85,000 marijuana convictions in five counties, including San Francisco, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Contra Costa.

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California Judge Approves Elimination of 66,000 Marijuana Convictions
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