San Francisco

Andrew Ruiz

San Francisco Expunges 9,000 Prior Cannabis Convictions

Using technology developed by Code for America, San Francisco is the first city in California to successfully complete the expungement of prior cannabis crimes.

Full story after the jump.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office has expunged 9,362 felony and misdemeanor cannabis convictions dating from as far back as 1975, according to an NPR report.

While many cities and municipalities across California are beginning the process of expungement, San Francisco is the first to finish. The city recently decided to take it upon itself to find and expunge prior cannabis crimes, as citizens have not been taking steps to do it for themselves. In fact, just 23 people had petitioned to the city to expunge their individual convictions.

“You have to hire an attorney. You have to petition the court. You have to come for a hearing. It’s a very expensive and very cumbersome process. And the reality is that the majority of the people that were punished and were the ones that suffered in this war on marijuana, war on drugs nationally, were people that can ill afford to pay an attorney.” — San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, via NPR

San Francisco accomplished the feat with help from programmers with Code for America. Previous efforts to identify cases manually had resulted in only 1,200 expungements.

A state law passed last year set the requirement that all prior California cannabis convictions eligible for expungement should be cleared by 2020. The technology developed by Code for America could be the tool necessary to help achieve that goal.

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