Culture Magainze |
On Sept. 30, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1793, which will wipe out or reduce past cannabis convictions for potentially hundreds of thousands of Californians.
Effective Oct. 1, the Department of Justice will be required to review criminal records by July 1, 2019 and recall, dismiss, seal or redesignate cannabis-related convictions that are eligible for expungement or reduction.
Misdemeanors for transporting up to an ounce of cannabis and growing six plants at home can be expunged. Felony charges such as transporting or selling over an ounce of cannabis can be reduced to a misdemeanor.
“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,” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta. “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people shouldn’t continue to face the collateral consequences, like being denied a job or housing, because they have an outdated conviction on their records.”
An estimated half-million California residents with cannabis-related convictions between 2006 and 2015 are eligible for reduced or expunged criminal records. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, only about 5,000 people petitioned to have their records cleared or reduced.
Several other cannabis-related bills were addressed, including the approval of Senate Bill 1294, granting funding to boost minority-owned businesses. Gov. Brown vetoed Senate Bill 1127, which would have granted students access to medical cannabis. He also vetoed Assembly Bill 1996, which would have allowed cannabis to be grown at the University of California for research, and Senate Bill 829 which would have exempted medical cannabis donations from cultivation taxes. Gov. Brown indicated that he plans on reintroducing SB 1127 to provide a way for students to have access to medical cannabis.
California joins Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, and Rhode Island, all of which have enacted similar laws. The new law gained the support of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.