Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced Monday that his office is dismissing and sealing roughly 58,000 cannabis-related convictions, but convictions secured through the Pasadena City Attorney’s Office will remain in place, officials said.
The tens of thousands of convictions are to be dismissed “as part of [Gascón’s] ongoing efforts to reverse the injustices of drug laws,” District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said in a written statement.
Additionally, the records of the cases will be sealed, he added.
“Dismissing these convictions means the possibility of a better future to thousands of disenfranchised people who are receiving this long-needed relief,” Gascón said. “It clears the path for them to find jobs, housing and other services that previously were denied to them because of unjust cannabis laws.”
But the policy is limited to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.
Felony cases that originate in Pasadena are turned over to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
But misdemeanor and infraction cases originating in the city are prosecuted by the Pasadena City Attorney’s Office, and those cases would not be dismissed under Gascón new policy, Pasadena Chief Prosecutor Michael Dowd said.
“Our convictions remain in place,” he said. “The actions of [the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office] do not affect our cases.”
Last year, however, the Pasadena City Attorney’s Office dismissed about 250 marijuana-related convictions after the L.A. County D.A.’s Office moved to dismiss about 66,000 such cases under state Assembly Bill 1793, which directed prosecutors to affirmatively review cannabis-related convictions.
The dismissal’s last year were based on records furnished by the California Department of Justice, according to Risling. Monday’s action came after an additional analysis of data by county prosecutors.
Further examination of Los Angeles County court records uncovered approximately 58,000 felony and misdemeanor cases dating back more than three decades that are eligible for dismissal,” he said.
Former National Drug Policy Alliance Director Lynne Lyman commended the decision.
“This is the unfinished work of Proposition 64,” she said. “We created the opportunity for old cannabis convictions to be cleared, but it was up to local district attorneys to actually make it happen.”
“Proposition 64 was always about more than legal weed, it was an intentional effort to repair the past harms of the war on drugs and cannabis prohibition, which disproportionately targeted people of color,” according to Lyman. “I applaud District Attorney Gascón for taking this action to help nearly 60,000 Angelenos have their records fully sealed.”
Gascón was a co-author of Proposition 64, which made marijuana legal for adults in California in 2016.
Felicia Carbajal, who serves as executive director and community leader of The Social Impact Center, agreed.
“I have made it my life mission to help and support people who have been impacted by the ‘war on drugs,’” she said. “Giving people with cannabis convictions a new lease on life by expunging the records is something I have worked on for years and I am grateful that we can now make it happen.”
L.A. County Public Defender Ricardo Garcia was also on-hand to support dismissals.
“District Attorney Gascón has taken another important step toward justice reform. Today’s mass dismissal of cannabis convictions restores dignity and provides new opportunities to those who have been unfairly impacted by outdated, tough-on-crime anti-drug laws,” he said. “Many are our most vulnerable community members who deserve our care and support.”
Monday’s action coincided with the “Week of Action and Awareness,” formerly known as National Expungement Week, between Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, officials said.