In San Diego, 99% of Past Cannabis Crimes Expunged from People's Records - What Are You Waiting For?
“It was the best of times… it was the worst of times…”
That is the intro to the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities, but in this example, we’re talking about two different states – Colorado and Washington.
These two states were the first to blaze the trail of recreational cannabis legalization with voters approving the new regulations way back in 2012. Since then, nine more states have joined their ranks, each one seeming to learn at least a few lessons from those who came before them and the pitfalls they faced along the way.
At the time, just getting cannabis legalized for adult use was the ultimate endgame, pretty much regardless of what stipulations came with it. As a result, Colorado and Washington passed relatively incomplete versions of cannabis reform that they are still revamping to this day. In Colorado, for example, it took nearly seven years for the state to approve the home delivery of legal weed – that just happened a couple of weeks ago. Also lacking from those early days of reform in the Mile High State was any sort of criminal justice reform – now considered a foundational plank of any legit cannabis legislation.
California, which followed suit with adult use legalization back in 2016, has struggled to implement its own regulatory framework for legal weed but one thing that Proposition 64 got right from the start was its inclusion of criminal record expungement and the second chance that such a program provides to past offenders from the War on Weed that our country ignorantly engaged in for so many decades.
In San Diego, the cannabis culture has been under assault since well before Prop 64 was even a glimmer in the eye of uneducated voters, and the city’s reluctance to embrace the legal market has only further sterilized the entire experience. Mirroring most of the rest of the state, the original players who set up the board in San Diego now no longer even have a seat at the table and cannabis has largely gone back underground.
Despite its failures, however, the city has gotten one thing right – the successful expungement of past cannabis related crimes is occurring at a breakneck pace in the Whale’s Vagina, and the rest of the country should be taking notes.
Considering cases dating back to at least 1970 so far, the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office has been tasked with the monumental effort to comb through thousands and thousands of past cases and criminal records to determine which ones may be eligible for a reduction or even total omission of the weed-related crimes on their permanent record.
San Diego is not the first city to offer such a service, but the process is often extremely confusing, potentially costly, and almost always poorly advertised in other cities.
Since the passage of Prop 64, more than 1,600 cannabis-related cases have been re-evaluated in San Diego with nearly 99% being resolved in favor of the petitioner. The city’s Assistant District Attorney, a man named David Greenberg, says that the process is optimized for speed and success. “At the end of the day, those trays are always empty,” Greenberg said in reference to his clear desk. “We have no backlog.
This is one of those rare circumstances where prosecutors and defense attorneys work toward a similar goal – justice. Imagine that…
Most of the cases so far have been adjusted without any dispute. “About 98.9 percent of these we’re agreed upon,” says Greenberg.
Not all petitioners qualify though. If your cannabis crime involved crossing an international border, you’re still out of luck. The same goes if you were convicted of pushing pot to minors. Registered sex offenders with cannabis convictions are also ineligible.
Everyone else, however, should explore this option. To begin the process could not be more simple.
After providing some basic contact info, the suits take it from there. The process can take up to two weeks, but many people are seeing relief in as little as two hours! Once the DA and a rep from the Public Defender’s Office sign off on a candidate, the case is sent to a local judge who orders the change – felonies reduce down to misdemeanors, and misdemeanors reduce to citations or get wiped completely. It’s that easy.
What are you waiting for? You have nothing to lose except a wrongful blemish on your permanent record. Even something as ridiculous as a misdemeanor for cannabis can affect your housing situation, your employment situation, and more. Wipe it clean if you can, you deserve a second chance.