Kurtis Garbutt

Brooklyn DA Wants to Erase 20,000 Cannabis Convictions

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez has proposed erasing tens of thousands of low-level cannabis convictions, The Associated Press reports.

Gonzalez’s reasoning is that, since prosecutors are no longer pursuing criminal charges for these offenses, then individuals who have past cannabis-related convictions hanging over them should be free of that weight.

“It’s a little unfair to say we’re no longer prosecuting these cases, but to have these folks carry these convictions for the rest of their lives.” — Eric Gonzalez, Brooklyn District Attorney, via the Associated Press

New York has a strict medical cannabis program, but adult-use remains illegal and decriminalization is only in spirit — earlier this year, Gonzalez joined with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in a decision to stop making arrests and prosecutions for simple cannabis possession cases.

Many states and other jurisdictions have proposed cannabis expungement rules following major policy reforms; Brooklyn’s proposal, however, is unique because it would be a case-by-case clearing of convictions that were made under a law that technically still stands.

Gonzalez said that anyone with a cannabis conviction that would no longer be prosecuted in today’s political climate can apply to have their records cleared. Individuals who are also convicted of drug sales, certain violent crimes, and/or sex offenses would be most likely denied.

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