The City of San Francisco will review up to 8,000 convictions and offenses under the new legislation, authorizing recreational cannabis.
In opposition to the Trump administration, the city of San Francisco, California, has instituted an amnesty for all convictions related to cannabis for over forty years. The agglomeration prosecutor’s office has thus indicated that it will “retroactively apply the measure (…) legalizing the possession and use of recreational marijuana”, adopted in November 2016,”to criminal offenses and convictions dating back to 1975″. Up to 8,000 convictions and offenses will be examined.
“Although drug policies are taking a step backward at the federal level, San Francisco is once again taking the initiative to repair the damage caused by the disastrous (…) war on drugs,” prosecutor George Gascon commented.” A criminal conviction can be a barrier to employment, housing, and other subsidies.”
The San Diego prosecutor’s spokesperson, Summer Stephan, told Agence France-Presse that the seaside resort on the Mexican border has been taking similar steps to erase cannabis-related criminal records for the past year.
Persons who have sold drugs to minors or involved in violence, particularly sexual assaults and rapes, cannot benefit from these amnesties.
Gavin Newson, an assistant to the governor of California and former mayor of San Francisco, highlights the “lives shattered by an expensive and racially discriminatory marijuana criminal justice system.
Prosecutor Gascon points out that the “war on drugs,” the nickname of federal counter-narcotics policy for years, has resulted in “uneven arrests across racial groups.” With Black and Hispanic people being the subject of more frequent arrests and incarceration than Whites, although “multiple studies have shown that drug use and sale is equivalent.”
In California, several cities such as Los Angeles or Oakland, and Portland, Oregon, are working to address these disparities and are implementing “restorative justice” measures, such as prioritizing African Americans or Hispanics in commercialization licensing.
Eight states, including Colorado and Washington State in addition to Washington DC, have already legalized recreational soft drugs, and thirty states with the federal capital have legalized them for therapeutic use. However, it remains illegal at the federal level in the US.
If the Obama administration had lifted the stakes on marijuana arrests and prosecutions, the Trump administration and its justice minister, Jeff Sessions, have raised the stakes.