California is just days away (Jan. 1) from implementing legal recreational marijuana sales. The state may also be releasing hundreds of thousands of prisoners convicted of marijuana-related crimes due to a provision in the state’s new marijuana law.
California has decided to offer a second chance to persons convicted of serious or minor marijuana-related crimes with the opportunity to have their criminal records cleared or have the charges drastically reduced, the Washington Post reports. California hopes that reversing decades of marijuana convictions will help its citizens obtain employment and lead to societal improvements.
Eunisses Hernandez from the Drug Policy Alliance said, “We worked to help create a legalized and regulated process for legal marijuana, but we also wanted to make sure we could help — some way, somehow — repair the damages of marijuana prohibition.” According to the DPA, there have been approximately half a million arrests for marijuana offenses in California in the past decade, many of which have reviewable charges.
As of September, almost 5,000 convicts have filed petitions to have their sentences reduced, thrown out or redesignated.
California is among nine states leading a nationwide movement to reduce marijuana charges in an attempt to atone for the servere penalties established during the war on drugs.
An example of the new law at work: A Californian convicted of possessing an ounce or less of marijuana would have their conviction tossed out because, as of Jan 1, it is legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in California.