California enacts law to erase old marijuana convictions
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California enacts law to erase old marijuana convictions

California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] signed [press release] a bill [text] Sunday that would allow past marijuana convictions to be recalled or dismissed if the conviction would no longer violate the law due to the passage of the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use Marijuana Act (AUMA).

AUMA legalized, among other things, possession of up to 28.5 grams of cannabis and up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis for those who are 21 or older. AB-1793 will require the Department of Justice to review state criminal history in order to determine which past convictions would no longer be illegal under AUMA and would be eligible for recall or dismissal.

The eligible convictions are required to be identified before July 1, 2019. Prosecutors will then have until July 1, 2020, to review and raise challenges against the eligible convictions. A challenge can be raised if the prosecutor finds that the conviction is not eligible, or if the person “presents an unreasonable risk to public safety.” The public defender’s office will notify those who’s convictions are being challenged.

The courts will be required to reduce or dismiss the convictions that don’t receive any challenges by July 1, 2020. The state summary criminal history database will then be updated within 30 days. Any costs that are experienced by local agencies or school districts due to this law will be reimbursed by the state.

The law was approved [JURIST Report] by the California State Legislature in August. Several laws have been passed in recent years to legalize the use of marijuana around the world. Manhattan District Attorney announced in September that they will be dropping [JURIST report] 3,042 marijuana charges in New York City. South Africa’s Constitutional Court decriminalized [JURIST report] personal use of marijuana in September. In June, Canada’s Senate passed [JURIST report] a law that would legalize recreation use of marijuana.