California Bill Would Automatically Expunge Past Marijuana Convictions

California Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) has introduced legislation that would require county courts to automatically expunge the records of those who have been charged with a marijuana-related crime that’s since been legalized, reports Kathleen Ronayne of the Associated Press.

In 2016 California voters approved the ability to wipe criminal marijuana conviction records as a provision in the legalization initiative Proposition 64. However, the existing law requires people with convictions to initiate the process themselves, but many people don’t (often because they don’t know they can, as the option has received little publicity) For some, the process is simply to complicated and costly. Although roughly 5,000 people have applied for an expungement as of 2017, it’s only a small portion of the total number of people eligible.

The proposed law would change this, requiring that these eligible charges be expunged from people’s records automatically. This would remove the requirement that an individual themselves seek an expungement. According to Bonta, the proposal would “give folks who deserve it under the law the fresh start they’re entitled to”.

If approved into law, courts would be required to identify eligible convictions, expunge the charges from people’s records, and then notify people that the change has been made.

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