California to Forgive Prior Marijuana Convictions

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Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed legislation that will set in motion an automatic judicial review to forgive those with prior marijuana convictions and reduce the criminal classification from felony to misdemeanor in other cases.

The new law segues from the state’s passage of Proposition 64 in 2016, which legalized recreational marijuana usage. The measure also included a provision whereby those with marijuana convictions could file for their reconsideration and possible removal.

The new law takes this a step further and requires the California Department of Justice to review all convictions to find those who are “potentially eligible for recall or dismissal of sentence, dismissal and sealing, or redesignation” before July 2019. Opponents then has until July 2020 to challenge any cases they feel should not be reduced or dismissed.

Misdemeanors for marijuana usage can be dismissed while felonies for sale or distribution of the substance can be reduced to misdemeanors. It is estimated that there are about 218,000 cases to be reviewed.