Seattle will move to vacate misdemeanor marijuana cases


In California, Proposition 64 made it possible for those convicted of minor cannabis offenses to petition the courts to have their cases cleared, and similar bills have recently been passed in OR and Colorado.

Eight states have now legalized marijuana for recreational use, and some, including Oregon, California and Colorado, have made it easier for people to petition to have their pot convictions vacated or sealed.

Marijuana possession arrests in Washington rose sharply in the 25 year period from 4,000 in 1986 to 11,000 in 2010, totaling 240,000 arrests according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

As NPR reported, District Attorney George Gascón said his office will dismiss and seal 3,038 misdemeanor convictions dating back before the state's legalization of marijuana went into effect, with no action necessary from those who were convicted.

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"I saw firsthand the 'war on drugs, ' including its devastating impacts on people, especially people of color and their families", Durkan, a former USA attorney, wrote in a guest editorial for The Stranger published Thursday morning.

"Today we are announcing that the city of Seattle will be asking the Seattle Municipal Court to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for all misdemeanor marijuana possession", announced Mayor Durkan. She noted that prior to legalization, blacks were three times as likely as whites in Washington state to be arrested for pot possession.

Seattle, as seen from Kerry Park.

The City of Seattle will move to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions prosecuted by the city before it was legalized in Washington state in a move Spokane already took three years ago.

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In Vermont, lawmakers are also considering a way to help clear cannabis misdemeanors.

The new policy will affect those who were convicted of offenses for conduct that is now legal under state law. This new bill would allow those arrested for possessing one to two ounces of cannabis to have their records expunged immediately after they have served their time.

She also said: "For thousands of people in Washington state, a misdemeanor marijuana conviction had huge implications: It could be a barrier to housing, to getting credit, to getting good jobs and education". "Court is not only a place to find fault".

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