Sunday night, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill into law that allows for the streamlined clearing of prior cannabis convictions, according to a USA Today report.
For some time, the process of getting a cannabis conviction cleared from your record has been difficult for everyone involved. The new law, AB-1793, automates the convictions’ removal, which supporters of the bill hope will allow people to move forward with their lives. Cannabis convictions can keep people from accessing fundamental services like student loans, housing, or jobs.
Clearing cannabis convictions is an important step to mitigating harm from the drug war.
“This [new law] will empower people. My heart goes out to people who have had to navigate this process on their own. It’s confusing, expensive and tiring.” — Rodney Holcombe, member of the Drug Policy Alliance, via USA Today
The new law also sets a structure for California‘s government to act on behalf of those previously convicted — even if they don’t know they can clear their records. Some may be able to completely clear their record, while others may see their felonies converted to misdemeanors.
The state Department of Justice has until July 1, 2019, to review past cases; experts estimate that up to 220,000 cases could be converted or removed.