More than 8,000 marijuana-related convictions will be erased or reduced using a technological approach that prosecutors nationwide should adopt to address a growing backlog of criminal cases eligible for modification, San Francisco's district attorney announced Monday.
San Francisco is the first California county to announce full compliance with the state's broad legalization of marijuana, which also made an estimated 200,000 past pot convictions eligible for erasure or reduction.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón credited the nonprofit technology organization Code for America for solving the biggest hurdle to identifying eligible cases dating back decades.
In May, when Gascón announced a partnership with Code for America, his office managed to identify and dismiss a little more than 1,000 eligible misdemeanor cases. Since then, an additional 8,132 cases have been identified. Gascón said more than 9,300 cases dating back to 1975 will be dropped or reduced without cost, active participation and, in many cases, the knowledge of the defendants.
"We don't have to do it," Gascón said Monday. "It was just a matter of dignity."
When voters passed Proposition 64 in 2016 to allow adult use of marijuana, they also eliminated several pot-related crimes. The proposition also applied retroactively, but provided no mechanism or guidance on how those eligible could erase their convictions or have felonies reduced to misdemeanors.