On January 1st, 2018, California joined the ranks of states such as Colorado, Washington, and Delaware and legalized cannabis for recreational use. During the November 2016 election, 57.1% of California voters cast their ballots in favor of Proposition 64, which provides the legal framework for recreational cannabis. While the proposition passed in 2016, recreational dispensaries have only been open in the state for less than a year.
According to Proposition 64, adults 21 years and older can:
Certain actions involving marijuana remain illegal, such as:
The recreational marijuana industry has been a success for the California economy. Following the legalization of cannabis, California has made over $2 billion in recreational sales, strengthening the economy and creating jobs for thousands of residents.
However, the success of the marijuana industry has seen criticism and anger from activists calling for the expungement of past cannabis convictions. During the infamous War on Drugs, and while recreational marijuana was illegal, thousands of Americans faced prison time because of low-level drug possession crimes. These individuals’ criminal records have prevented them from obtaining employment and finding a place to live, in addition to restraining their freedom.
In September 2018, Governor Jerry Brown announced the passage of California State Assembly Bill 1793, which will make it easier for the state to erase past cannabis convictions. This news comes as a welcome relief to many Californians, including activists and those with marijuana charges.
Assembly member Rob Bonta from Alameda introduced Assembly Bill 1793 into the State Assembly and on September 30th, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed it. This bill will wipe out or reduce past cannabis convictions for thousands of California residents.
By July 1st, 2019, the California Department of Justice must review criminal records of people convicted with marijuana-related crimes. The department will dismiss, reduce, recall, or seal these records and charges. Approximately 500,000 Californians arrested between 2006 and 2015 are eligible for this review. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, only 5,000 eligible Californians have applied to have their records reduced or expunged.
Assembly Bill 1793 will come into effect on January 1st, 2019. Following this, the California Department of Justice will begin its review of records through an automated system. The new law will expunge low-level possession convictions from peoples’ records, including:
The Department of Justice will also reduce certain felony convictions to misdemeanors, including:
This law has the potential to wipe thousands of records clean, changing the lives of thousands of California residents and healing the effects of the War on Drugs. However, some cases may slip through the cracks. If you have any questions regarding this information, give our Riverside criminal defense lawyer a call. We offer free consultations.