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San Diego City Attorney Moves To Dismiss 5,000-Plus Marijuana Convictions

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott outside of the Hall of Justice, Sept. 25...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott outside of the Hall of Justice, Sept. 25, 2019.

The San Diego City Attorney’s Office is working to dismiss more than 5,000 low-level marijuana convictions. That includes misdemeanors and infractions for possessing cannabis.

"Marijuana convictions used to mean something and now the law is obsolete," said San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Assembly Bill 1793 requires prosecutors to review convictions for some marijuana charges that are eligible for dismissal or reduction under Proposition 64.

"The purpose of what we’re doing and being aggressive and out front is to try to take the burden off of individuals to wipe their slate clean," Elliott said.

Wednesday the city attorney moved to dismiss around 30 convictions.

"That’s the first 30 of at least 5,000 we will be filing," Elliott said. "We have looked back to 2009 in our current database."

RELATED: California Lawmakers Pass Bill To Erase Old Pot Convictions

Prosecutors will also be looking at thousands of convictions before 2009.

"I think it’s an important step," said attorney Michael Cindrich who specializes in cannabis law. "I think we’ve seen other prosecutorial agencies throughout the state reviewing these convictions since Prop 64 passed in 2016."

Cindrich said some people do not know they still have marijuana convictions still on their records. He said low-level marijuana convictions could keep some from finding work.

"There are certain types of jobs that would look unfavorably upon marijuana convictions ⁠⁠— misdemeanor marijuana convictions and even infractions," Cindrich said.

The city attorney's office did not have specific information about the more than 5,000 people who could have their convictions overturned.

"These could be first offenders, these could be repeat offenders, it could be any number of the type of cases and defendants," Cindrich said. "However, we do know these are for cases where the possession of cannabis flower or plant material was less than an ounce and possession of concentrated cannabis was 8 grams or less."

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office has also been reviewing marijuana convictions. A spokeswoman said the office is getting ready to submit more than 25,000 requests to reduce charges or dismiss cases.

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The San Diego City Attorney's office is working to dismiss more than 5,000 low-level marijuana convictions. Plus, how a Trump administration rule meant to discourage immigrants from accessing social services could have a far-reaching impact on the California’s health care system. Also on today’s podcast, more details are emerging from the charges filed against 13 Marines accused in connection with ... Read more →

Aired: September 26, 2019 | Transcript

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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