California has officially legalized recreational marijuana since the start of the New Year. However naturally, there are still some remaining questions that come on the spurs of the monumental variation of drug policy. Whether it’s further hashing out zoning provisions of marijuana shop or figuring out a suitable way to test for stoned driving, legislators will have their hands tied for the next several months trying to properly improve pre-existing marijuana laws. However, there is one of the most valuable questions remaining upon the origin of legal recreational marijuana.
Will legalized marijuana expunge prior Marijuana Charges?
Sadly for prior offenders, it does not look like California’s recent law that was amended will do anything for their cause.
In reference to Goldman, Proposition 64, which is the official legal document that legalized recreational bud in California, cannot be applied to retroactive cases. So, if the courts convicted you of a weed crime before January 1st, for lack of better terms, you’re SOL.
There is one silver lining, according to Goldman. There’s nothing a judge could do about a prior conviction. However, someone could cite the new law in order to get out of probation.
“Someone could theoretically walk into a judge’s courtroom and ask that judge if they would take them off probation,” Goldman said. “Because although the law doesn’t require it or mention anything about it, it just seems fair that someone not have to suffer consequences for having been convicted of something that today is no longer a crime.”
In some cases, a former ‘law-breaker’ could also successfully petition to have a prior conviction expunged from their record. However, that small feat isn’t quite ideal.
The expungement of a former crime will not wipe the conviction totally of their record. And furthermore, in some cases, prospective employers may require a full disclosure of any past incidents. Kind of a bummer, considering it’s no longer a crime.
Yet, Prop. 64 does allow for the re-designation of past crimes, depending on the severity. Those who have already served sentences for cannabis crimes can now petition to have the conviction redesignated to better suit current laws.
While there is still a plenty of grey area in the matter, hope still exist. At least for those not completely finished with the legal process. For example, back in 2014, the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned the 2011 conviction of a woman who possessed under an ounce of pot because her case was still under review as Colorado ushered in legal recreational weed.