April 7 Cal NORML Meeting Addresses Expungement of Past Marijuana Convictions in California

Hear a recording of the meeting

Our special guest at Cal NORML’s monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 7 at 4 PM (PST) was Alia Toran-Burrell, Associate Program Director, Criminal Justice at Code for America, worked with half of California’s counties to identify cases that qualify for expungement, and developed an app called “Clear My Record” that Californians in some counties can use to find public defenders or legal aid to ensure that their past marijuana convictions are erased or resentenced under AB 1793 (Bonta, 2017).  Cal NORML Legal Committee attorneys can also help with expungements; most will give a free initial consult.

Two recent articles out of San Diego point out the issues around the process: a judge signed an order to resentence 26,000 MJ felonies to misdemeanors, and dismiss 1000 cases, in San Diego county on February 5; however it may take some time to update individual court records to reflect the changes and people may need to take action there and in other counties to ensure their records are cleared or reclassified. A follow-up story found that of the 5,000 cases eligible for resentencing or dismissal announced by the San Diego city attorney, only 500 have qualified for action.

The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board wrote in January, “Four years later, California courts are failing on key promise of marijuana legalization,” saying that:Unfortunately, courts in most of California’s 58 counties — which must take the step of clearing old convictions before the process is complete — were given no deadline and have not prioritized the issue. Now, as many as 113,000 residents may still have marijuana convictions on their record in the court system. This is an inexcusable failure by California’s justice system.

Cal NORML has been tracking the expungement process statewide and is seeing disparate numbers being released from the DOJ and DAs across the state. Gun rights, employment rights, etc. are affected.

We will also heard updates on state and federal legislation at the meeting. Hear a recording of the meeting

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