One of the biggest arguments for legalizing marijuana in California was that people would have the new law retroactively applied to their marijuana offenses/cases if Proposition 64 passed. Proposition 64 passed by the widest margin of victory out of any state marijuana legalization initiative to date. As such, people are scrambling in California to get their records cleaned up and/or get their current cases thrown out, or at the least have penalties reduced.
A marijuana conviction on a person’s record is essentially a scarlet letter. Those convicted of marijuana offenses find it very difficult to find housing, financial assistance, employment, and many other things. One marijuana conviction on a person’s record can literally ruin their life. It’s not a hypothetical situation – it happens every day. Thousands of people were arrested every year in California for marijuana offenses. Fortunately it sounds like many of them are benefiting from the recent law changes. Per KPCC:
“I was in court today [Nov. 10] where a guy had a possession for sale of 35 pounds,” said Bruce Margolin, an attorney who specializes in cannabis-related issues. “They wanted to give him a year in jail and three years felony probation. Today, he walked out with a misdemeanor 60 days, with half time.”
Because of changes to the law, some crimes which were felonies are now considered misdemeanors, and some misdemeanors can be wiped from records completely. And these changes don’t just apply to current and future cases, but retroactively as well, meaning that anyone who’s been charged with a pot-related crime has a chance to have their record amended.
“People with possession for sale, possession with the intent to sell, transportation or giving away more than an ounce, or sale of cannabis, would normally face prison time from three to four years. However, now it’s been reduced to six months in jail, maximum, and a $500 fine, or both,” said Margolin.
The same article cited above talks about how some prosecutors and courts are trying to push back on things that Proposition 64 requires, such as reducing penalties for past convictions. That of course will not stand, and is an example of how far some prosecutors, courts, and members of law enforcement have had their head up their you-know-whats. Whether they like it or not, Proposition 64 is law now. The industry side still has to be worked out, but the criminal justice part of the equation was decided by California voters. If you have been convicted of a marijuana offense in California, I suggest you get in contact with a reputable marijuana attorney to see what can be done to clean up your record.