After Prop 64’s Passage, Thousands Hope to have Pot Convictions Overturned

SACRAMENTO -- Thousands of criminal cases related to marijuana are being reviewed since the passage of Proposition 64, allowing those with felony convictions or charges to reduce their sentences to misdemeanors or have their offenses dismissed altogether.

“I heard the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, 'get down on the ground,'” said Shelby Lucero.

It was the Fourth of July, 2012. Lucero’s restaurant and café, from which she also ran a holistic healing center and marijuana dispensary, was raided.

“Body armor, full automatic weapons pointed right at your head,” Lucero remembers.

She was charged with multiple felonies for possession and sale of marijuana, along with criminal conspiracy. The case would land her in and out of Sacramento courts for the next five years.

“We’ve had maybe six judges and at least six, maybe seven district attorneys,” Lucero said.

Her legal troubles came to an abrupt, and, for her, a satisfying end this March when, after half a decade, her multiple felonies were dismissed in lieu of one minor citation. The decision was made as a result of Proposition 64 passing back in November, according to the judge who eventually ruled over her case.

“A citation like that, that you’d get for jay walking,” Lucero said.

Since Prop 64 passed, all over California felony marijuana cases like Lucero’s have been getting a second look. The majority of those reviewed cases have either been dismissed or reduced to minor misdemeanors.

“The law used to consider those offenses felonies," said Robert Gold, Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney in Sacramento County. "Now the law has changed and classified them as misdemeanors.”

Gold handles all the petitions to review marijuana cases in the county. Countywide, he says 199 cases have been reviewed since November.

“And I would say 95 percent of them the court has either reduced a person’s case or, in some cases, dismissed it,” Gold said.

“You start to think about how lucky we are now that this Prop 64 passed,” Lucero said.

She says she no longer feels like a criminal, and believes popular opinion on pot has shifted in California. And with 57 percent of the state’s voters supporting Proposition 64, she says the numbers are behind her.