Clearing of Past Marijuana Crimes Moves Forward Across California


7/5/23: Thanks to the excellent (as always) reporting by Marijuana Moment, some of these figures and tables have been revised from an earlier release.

California’s Attorney General has issued a second report on statewide expungements for marijuana crimes, reporting on county compliance through April 6, 2023 and finding that 206,052 of an estimated 227,650 potential resentencing/dismissals have happened statewide. That number is up from 197,205 in the March report, with 8,847 convictions sealed in 2023 and 21,598 still waiting to be sealed as of April.

Six counties (Alpine, Lake, Mono, San Luis Obispo, Siskiyou, and Shasta) were in full compliance as of April, according to the DOJ, with San Francisco and a few others nearly in compliance with only a few outstanding cases. San Diego brought its compliance rate up to 99.3% by sealing 1,506 cases this year so far; a remaining 190 have not been reported sealed. Los Angeles county had no reported sealed cases in 2023; it has 2,226 yet to be acted on.

Some other counties aren’t making much progress this year, notably Orange County with 4,052 convictions yet to be addressed by April, San Bernardino with 3,717, and Alameda with 2,080. Marked progress was seen in El Dorado, Kern, Madera, Napa, Riverside, Sacramento, and Sutter counties, with small gains in other counties. Imperial County brings up the rear with only 14.6% compliance, clearing only 258 of its potential 1,767 convictions, followed by Amador (31.1%), Marin (38.8%), Trinity (47.6%), San Joaquin (59.1%). Humboldt was only at 61% compliance, but has cleared 272 convictions this year. (See Table below).

Under state law, all counties must comply fully by July 1, 2023. The next quarterly AG’s report on compliance is due in September. The AG is also charged with informing the public about the new law and its progress.

County Eligible Convictions Sealed by Jan. 3 Sealed in 2023 Sealed by April 6 % Compliant Remaining to be Sealed
Alpine 39 38 1 39 100.0 0
Lake 654 650 4 654 100.0 0
Mono 90 88 2 90 100.0 0
San Luis Obispo 1,229 1,220 9 1,229 100.0 0
Siskiyou 560 557 3 560 100.0 0
Shasta 2,022 1,994 27 2,021 100.0 1
San Francisco 7,804 6,506 1,294 7,800 99.9 4
Sonoma 3,303 3,296 0 3,296 99.8 7
Ventura 1,732 1,727 0 1,727 99.7 5
Merced 946 926 17 943 99.7 3
Monterey 1,797 1,772 14 1,786 99.4 11
San Diego 29,074 27,378 1,506 28,884 99.3 190
San Mateo 2,688 2,597 71 2,668 99.3 20
Santa Barbara 1,834 1,810 9 1,819 99.2 15
Riverside 8,164 6,766 1,317 8,083 99.0 81
Mendocino 1,468 1,453 0 1,453 99.0 15
Stanislaus 2,448 2,407 12 2,419 98.8 29
Inyo 225 203 19 222 98.7 3
Sierra 69 68 0 68 98.6 1
Tulare 2,665 2,589 34 2,623 98.4 42
Butte 1,448 1,237 187 1,424 98.3 24
Yuba 383 359 16 375 97.9 8
Yolo 846 802 24 826 97.6 20
San Benito 340 331 0 331 97.4 9
Los Angeles 70,097 67,871 0 67,871 96.8 2,226
Calaveras 338 326 1 327 96.7 11
Colusa 298 286 2 288 96.6 10
Tehama 1,020 975 0 975 95.6 45
Santa Cruz 1,552 1,381 99 1,480 95.4 72
Contra Costa 3,407 3,044 183 3,227 94.7 180
Solano 2,210 2,085 0 2,085 94.3 125
Mariposa 286 245 22 267 93.4 19
Fresno 3,575 3,183 121 3,304 92.4 271
Sutter 303 185 95 280 92.4 23
Santa Clara 10,193 9,377 3 9,380 92.0 813
Madera 1,052 472 493 965 91.7 87
Kern 3,832 2,568 843 3,411 89.0 421
Sacramento 6,755 5,158 828 5,986 88.6 769
El Dorado 1,047 506 408 914 87.3 133
Modoc 141 123 0 123 87.2 18
Glenn 381 321 3 324 85.0 57
Alameda 10,007 7,893 34 7,927 79.2 2,080
Tuolumne 593 468 1 469 79.1 124
Placer 1,430 1,089 20 1,109 77.6 321
Kings 698 384 138 522 74.8 176
Nevada 691 507 2 509 73.7 182
Orange 14,355 10,063 240 10,303 71.8 4,052
Napa 834 438 148 586 70.3 248
San Bernardino 11,121 7,138 266 7,404 66.6 3,717
Del Norte 358 225 6 231 64.5 127
Lassen 252 128 34 162 64.3 90
Plumas 187 115 0 115 61.5 72
Humboldt 1,658 739 272 1,011 61.0 647
San Joaquin 3,822 2,256 2 2,258 59.1 1,564
Trinity 658 304 9 313 47.6 345
Marin 608 236 0 236 38.8 372
Amador 296 91 1 92 31.1 204
Imperial 1,767 251 7 258 14.6 1,509
TOTAL 227,650 197,205 8,847 206,052 86 % AVG 21,598

4/23: As mandated by last year’s bill AB 1706 (Bonta), the DOJ has issued its first report on county-by-county compliance with sending their expungement data to DOJ.

The report is current through January 1 and shows that many counties still had not complied with the law by that date, or had only partially done so. The Last Prisoner Project has produced a map of the counties and their compliance rates, based on the DOJ report. It shows for example that as of January 1, Orange County was only 48% compliant, Alameda County only 56%, Marin 15%, and Humboldt only 14%. See LPP’s landing page on expungement

Under AB 1706, counties had until March 1, 2023 to send in their cases to be resentenced or cleared, but this is not reflected in the DOJ report, which only goes through January 1. The next DOJ report on county compliance is due in June, and DOJ has until July to actually clear past marijuana convictions, based on county data.

9/22: Asm. Mia Bonta’s bill AB 1706 to expedite clearing of marijuana records in California has been signed into law.

12/21: AG Bonta Pledges DOJ Help to Clear Past Marijuana Convictions in California

1/22: LA Times: California was supposed to clear cannabis convictions. Tens of thousands are still languishing

10/21: Why Is California Failing Thousands of People With Cannabis Records?
(The lede seems to say that a deadline has passed to clear records; in fact, as the article says further down, the courts still have no deadline to act.)

Marin County DA drops, reduces 500 cannabis cases
People with past marijuana convictions in Marin County can check their eligibility for expungement by reaching Marin’s Assistant District Attorney Otis Bruce at (415) 473-6450.

9/21: Los Angeles District Attorney to Vacate Some 60,000 Marijuana Convictions

6/21: California’s Expungement Battle: What’s Working & What’s Not in the Fight for Cannabis Record Clearance
In a statement provided to Ember, Attorney General Bonta noted that “too many Californians have been treated unfairly as a result of the many broken parts of our criminal justice system. They deserve more justice, more humanity, and a second chance.” He added that AB-1793 “is a bill that seeks to right a historic wrong,” and that he is “excited to play a role in seeing through as Attorney General.”

“The California Department of Justice and local agencies have been hard at work since the law’s passage in 2018, but there’s much still to be done,” he added. “As the People’s Attorney, I will do all I can to ensure all those with qualifying cannabis-related convictions have their records dismissed, sealed, or redesignated.”

Watch Cal NORML’s April 7, 2021 Zoom meeting with Alia Toran-Burrell, Associate Program Director, Criminal Justice at Code for America.

UPDATE 3/21: Code for America reports that half of California counties have used their Clear My Record tool, resulting in 140,000 past marijuana convictions identified as qualifying for being reduced or dismissed. In addition to the government-facing application, Clear My Record has also created a user-facing app that helps residents in 14 California counties find attorneys to help with the petition process to clear records. (Those counties are: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Marin, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Ventura & Yolo. Cal NORML’s legal committee attorneys can also help with expungement processes.

Code for America recommends that someone who thinks they have an eligible conviction (to be automatically cleared) contact the DA or public defender in the county in which their conviction is to see whether their conviction has been identified by the DA to be automatically cleared. They’ll then have to confirm with that county court the status of that cleared conviction (i.e. has it already been cleared by the court, is it in the process of being cleared, etc.)

Thousand of marijuana convictions officially reduced, others dismissed in San Diego County
Excerpt: With the wave of a pen by a Superior Court judge, nearly 26,000 people with felony marijuana convictions on their records had them reduced to less-onerous misdemeanor convictions last month. In addition some 1,000 people with misdemeanor marijuana convictions had those cases completely dismissed. The moves came in a three-page order signed by San Diego Superior Court Judge Eugenia Eyherabide on Feb. 5. 

While the charges have been altered it may take some time to update individual court records to reflect the changes and the court system is now working through those logistics. The Public Defender’s Office through its Fresh Start program can help people clearing their records, said Deputy Public Defender Kate Braner. Though Eyherabide’s order took effect immediately, the lag time to update individual records could cause problems for people who undergo background checks or license or checks for certain licenses that rely on scouring court records. That program can be contacted at

A follow-up story from the same reporter found that of the 5000 cases eligible for resentencing or dismissal announced by the San Diego city attorney, only 500 have qualified for action. 

UPDATE 1/21: Four years later, California courts are failing on key promise of marijuana legalization – Sacramento Bee Editorial Board
Excerpt: Today, thousands of Californians could still be rejected by an employer, denied a loan, disqualified from housing or deemed ineligible for public benefits because of marijuana convictions that remain on their records. Under state law, such convictions should have been removed.

Assembly Bill 1793, authored by Democrat Rob Bonta of Alameda, was designed to help affected Californians clear their records. The bill created an automatic expungement process that gave the state Department of Justice and local prosecutors until last July to reduce, dismiss or contest marijuana convictions.

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 such 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.

June 28, 2020 – Proposition 64 (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act or AUMA), which California voters passed in November 2016, allowed people with past marijuana convictions to petition the court for expungement or resentencing. AB 1793 (Bonta), to automatically expunge or resentence certain past marijuana crimes without requiring the filing of a petition, passed and was signed into law in 2018, and is codified as Ca Health & Safety Code 11361.9.

Under the new state law, the state Department of Justice identified past convictions that are potentially eligible for recall or dismissal of sentence, dismissal and sealing, or redesignation pursuant to Section 11361.8. The DOJ notified county District Attorneys of all cases in their jurisdiction that are eligible, and the prosecutors had until July 1, 2020 to review all cases and inform the court and the public defender’s office in their county that they are challenging a particular case.

The law states, “If the prosecution does not challenge the recall or dismissal of sentence, dismissal and sealing, or redesignation by July 1, 2020, the court shall reduce or dismiss the conviction pursuant to Section 11361.8. The court shall notify the DOJ and the department shall modify the state summary criminal history information database accordingly….The DOJ shall post general information on its Internet Web site about the recall or dismissal of sentences, dismissal and sealing, or redesignation authorized in this section.”


Even before the state law took effect, SF District Attorney George Gascon announced in February 2019 he would release over 9,000 past marijuana convictions for resentencing or expungement. After Gascon challenged Los Angeles DA Jackie Lacey for re-election, she announced LA will move to expunge 66,000 past convictions.

In Santa Clara County, a judge has already signed off on more than 13,000 marijuana convictions, affecting more than 9,000 people, well more than the 3,068 cases released by DOJ. Santa Cruz county’s DA announced he would release 1,169 marijuana cases involving 1,085 defendants, fewer than the 2,187 DOJ-released number.

Cal NORML legal committee attorneys Bill Panzer and Omar Figueroa point out that some marijuana crimes are still being charged as felonies, or not expunged, under Health and Safety Codes 11366 [maintaining a place] & § 11366.5 [storing], along with Penal Code Sections 182 [conspiracy], and 32 [accessory after the fact], not to mention civil asset forfeiture over marijuana. The DOJ sent a supplemental list of marijuana cases under these codes plus PC 644 [attempted crime], citing People v. Medina, which says a court has discretion in resentencing  marijuana conspiracy crimes (while refusing to do so for defendant Medina, who had prior convictions and pleaded guilty to possession 35 pounds for sale). Another case, People v. Boatright allowed resentencing for marijuana cultivation despite 4 grams of methamphetamine being found on the site.

Humboldt County‘s DA chose to include H&SC 11366 & 11366.5 violations in releasing cases to the court; however, she released only half the number cases identified by DOJ. By contrast, Mendocino‘s DA released three times as many cases as DOJ found, using his own computer program to find eligible cases.

The Orange County Register reported that the LA DA’s is challenging 2,142 convictions flagged by the DOJ. Under the law, the public defender’s office, upon receiving notice from the DA, shall “make a reasonable effort to notify the person whose resentencing or dismissal is being challenged.” If the prosecution does not challenge the recall or dismissal of sentence, “the court shall notify the department [of justice],” which “shall post general information on its Internet Web site about the recall or dismissal of sentences, dismissal and sealing, or redesignation authorized in this section.”

Contra Costa County, which released cases for resentencing in January, has set up an email address where people may write to find out if their case is among those sent to the court. Sonoma County says, “To find out if your record has been cleared, contact the Law Offices of the Sonoma County Public Defender or the Sonoma County Superior Court.” The DOJ says, “If you are looking for information regarding a past conviction and want to know if the prosecuting agency is reviewing your case, please contact either the district attorney’s office or the public defender’s office in the county of conviction.” You can also request your own criminal record.

Below is a table with the number of past convictions released to each county by the DOJ, with links to their status (as we know it).

DOJ Records Released 7/19 County
7,466 Alameda
37 Alpine
243 Amador
1,377 Butte
274 Calaveras
263 Colusa
2,568 Contra Costa
335 Del Norte
1,013 El Dorado
3,129 Fresno
319 Glenn
1,611 Humboldt
1,632 Imperial
211 Inyo
3,214 Kern
631 Kings
549 Lake
220 Lassen
57,341 Los Angeles
921 Madera
526 Marin
253 Mariposa
1,330 Mendocino
847 Merced
114 Modoc
136 Mono
1,482 Monterey
681 Napa
632 Nevada
12,303 Orange
1,354 Placer
164 Plumas
7,035 Riverside
5,408 Sacramento
280 San Benito
10,176 San Bernardino
1,266 San Diego
2,235 San Francisco
1,271 San Joaquin
7,785 San Luis Obispo
25,991 San Mateo
5,312 Santa Barbara
3,068 Santa Clara
2,187 Santa Cruz
1,781 Shasta
58 Sierra
537 Siskiyou
1,830 Solano
2,272 Sonoma
2,045 Stanislaus
279 Sutter
859 Tehama
558 Trinity
2,540 Tulare
476 Tuolumne
1,514 Ventura
760 Yolo
391 Yuba
191,090 TOTAL

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