SAN FRANCISCO — Over 8,000 marijuana-related convictions were 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 that also made an estimated 200,000 past pot convictions eligible for erasure or reduction.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon credited the nonprofit technology organization Code for America for solving the biggest hurdle to identifying eligible cases dating back decades.
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.
A few hundred people hired attorneys, paid court fees and filed petitions to modify their records since November 2016, but the vast majority of convictions still remain untouched. Many district attorneys throughout the state said they lack the resources to sift through and review decades’ worth of criminal cases to identify eligible convictions.
In January 2018, Gascon announced his office would take on