Thousands of Sacramento County Marijuana Convictions Reduced, Dismissed

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office says it has identified over 5,300 marijuana convictions for violations that are no longer illegal under Proposition 64, the state’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative.

“Selling, possessing for sale, cultivating ... The felonies, now misdemeanors and let's say they had less than an ounce, which used to be an old misdemeanor, that could get dismissed,” said Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Robert Gold.

The office went even further than Proposition 64, taking suggestions from local community groups who wanted adjustments for those who committed marijuana felonies over 10 years ago, have just one conviction, or were under 21 years old at the time.

As a result, 3,384 felonies for crimes like marijuana cultivation, possession, possession for sale or use were reduced to misdemeanors. As many as 1,919 convictions were dismissed and 603 individuals will no longer have a conviction on their record.

Proposition 64 required sentence adjustments for those crimes but very few people petitioned for a review of those convictions. A bill last year required district attorneys identify cases that might qualify, a monumental task for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.

It took advantage of an offer by the nonprofit Code for America, which developed a digital program to quickly identify eligible marijuana conviction cases.

The DA's Office also worked with the Public Defender’s Office, which believes there could be a huge benefit even for those who served their sentences years ago.

"They have an effect in terms of the ability to get a job, housing, education," said public defender Steven Garrett.

The courts will make the adjustments automatically, but the public defender will try to give notice to those who are affected.

If people want of find out if their convictions are affected or if they feel their marijuana convictions qualify but were overlooked, they can contact Ryan Rafferty at the Public Defender’s Office at 916-874-5578 or Dawn Bladet at the District Attorney’s Office at 916-874-5258.

For general information about the marijuana conviction relief process, you can contact Nia Moore Weathers, community organizer for Youth Forward, at 916-873-3757.

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