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Seattle to clear marijuana convictions

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Seattle citizens with misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions who were prosecuted before recreational use of pot was legalized in Washington back in 2012 will soon have their records cleared, said Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes on Thursday.

Why it matters: While more states are moving towards legalization of recreational marijuana, criminal justice reform advocates have been pushing for prior marijuana convictions to be expunged. If the city court grants the request, an estimated 500 to 600 convictions dating back to 1977 will be overturned. Advocates have said that convictions have been a barrier for people seeking access to housing, jobs, education and government benefits and have disproportionately affected minorities.

Quote“People’s lives were ruined for misdemeanor marijuana offenses.  This action is a necessary first step in righting the wrongs of the past and putting our progressive values into action.”
— Durkan said in a statement

The backdrop: Seattle’s move comes a week after San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said he will retroactively expunge or reduce misdemeanor and felony marijuana convictions of more than 3,000 people, dating back to 1975.