As calls for criminal justice reform sweep the nation, California is taking steps to reverse some effects of the war on drugs, which continues to disproportionately impact people of color.
California’s 58 county district attorneys had a deadline of Wednesday, July 1, to accept or challenge the state’s recommendation to clear the records of some 191,090 past marijuana convictions. The procedure was triggered by Proposition 64, a 2016 measure that legalized cannabis and reduced penalties for related crimes, and by Assembly Bill 1793, which requires justice officials to purge eligible crimes from people’s records.
Because local prosecutors agreed with the vast majority of the state’s recommendations, tens of thousands of Californians are now free of criminal records for cannabis charges. In many cases, the charges for the cases in question are no longer crimes, but the criminal records still could have meant lost job or housing opportunities or, for immigrants, led to their deportation.