When recreational marijuana use was legalized in California, it presented an opportunity to reduce or expunge convictions for possession crimes that made it harder for some people to get ahead in life.
Since then, some counties have worked to address those convictions, taking on the lengthy bureaucratic process so that people would not have to wade through the legal world on their own.
San Francisco led the charge, announcing in January that the district attorney’s office would retroactively apply the new marijuana law to prior convictions dating as far back as 1975. But for prosecutors, the chance to change those convictions also came with a challenge: It required a lot of resources to plow through thousands of cases.
On Tuesday, Dist. Atty. George Gascón announced what he believes to be the solution. San Francisco is working with a nonprofit organization to create a program that would automatically clear eligible convictions under California’s new marijuana legalization law.
The program, created by Code for America, will allow the district attorney’s office to use new technology to determine eligibility for record clearance under state law, automatically fill out the required forms and generate a completed motion in PDF format. The district attorney’s office can then file the completed motion with the court.