More than a thousand marijuana-related convictions dating back as far as 1969 may soon be thrown out in Santa Cruz County.
Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeff Rosell announced Thursday he has petitioned local courts to reduce, dismiss and seal a total of 1,169 marijuana cases involving 1,085 defendants.
“Our office recognized the undue burden that these prior convictions can have on people’s livelihood, both past and present,” Rosell said in a prepared release. “The decision to dismiss these cases provides much-needed relief to the non-violent people caught up in the ‘war on drugs’ and level the playing field for people convicted of crimes that are no longer crimes.”
With the move, Rosell joins a number of California district attorneys who have taken similar steps in the wake of the state’s 2018 legalization of recreational marijuana and a subsequent state law.
Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana at the start of 2018, allows those convicted of what were previously marijuana-related crimes — now legal or lesser offenses — have their convictions lessened or dismissed.
Nearly 70% of Santa Cruz County voters backed the proposition.
A state law passed later in 2018, Assembly Bill 1793, shifted the burden to evaluate those convictions to local prosecutors and the California Department of Justice. [Read more at Santa Cruz Sentinel]