A new start after a marijuana conviction in California

Chuck Smith Attorney at Law

The movement to legalize marijuana is sweeping the nation nowadays, but there are still significant issues to deal with after legalization. One of the most important is what to do with previous criminal convictions for activities that are now legal. Luckily, California is taking steps to address this issue directly.

California lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 1793 earlier this month. This new bill will allow those with past marijuana convictions to obtain a completely clean slate.

The process of expunging marijuana convictions began after Proposition 64 legalized marijuana in 2014, but it was complex. Both the original charges and the process were imbalanced, with many people of color receiving disproportionate charges. Individuals had to take their own case to court to clear their record.

Assembly Bill 1793 seems to be making up for the confusion after Proposition 64’s legalization. This time, the state will handle the cases instead of leaving legal complications for individuals to resolve on their own.

How will it work?

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) will review all past marijuana convictions by January 1, 2019. After review, they will recommend cases to be either:

  • Reduced: A charge could be significantly reduced, with possession with intent to distribute changing from a felony to a misdemeanor.
  • Sealed: A sealed record is no longer public and requires a court order to review.
  • Dismissed: Under this new bill, you may receive a complete dismissal or recall of past marijuana charges.

Proposition 64 was meant to provide the same options, but the new bill clearly outlines the process.

California prosecutors will be able to challenge these recommendations. However, they will need to notify both the DOJ and the individual by July 1, 2020.

What does it mean for you?

Currently, marijuana convictions act like any other drug charges on your record. A drug record can negatively impact various areas of your life, including:

  • Applications for higher education
  • Filing for student loans
  • Employment opportunities
  • Housing choices

These options and more can open up to you with a reduced sentence or clear record. Before, even a charge of simple possession could seriously limit your life. This bill could give you another chance at your future.

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