When California voters approved legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, one of the most important impacts of that was the fact that criminal prosecutions for many cannabis crimes would no longer be an issue. But that didn’t necessarily help the hundreds of thousands with the stain of a criminal offense on their record. Orange County marijuana lawyers understand Assembly Bill 1793 should help address this. However, the impact won’t necessarily be immediate, and those with criminal records due to marijuana may still want to seek the advice of attorney for purposes of expediency and fairness.
Approved by the majority in the California legislature and the governor on Sept. 30, the law (which creates creates Section 11361.9 to the California Health and Safety Code) is in direct response to the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, and requires the Department of Justice by July 2019 to review state records and identify those prior convictions that may possibly be eligible for recall, dismissal of sentence, dismissal, sealing or redesignation under the new law. The state Justice Department will then be required to notify prosecutors of all cases in their jurisdiction that meet this requirement. Then prosecutors must, by July 2020, review all those cases to ascertain whether they wish to challenge the DOJ’s recommendation. If there is no challenge, the bill requires the department to modify the criminal history information in its database in accordance with the bill within 30 days (by July 31, 2020), and to update the post on its website. The state will be required to reimburse local agencies and school districts for whatever costs are incurred by the state as a result of putting this law into effect.
The state will prioritize cases of those individuals currently serving a sentence or who proactively petition for recall or dismissal of sentence, dismissal and sealing or redesignation (emphasis added). That means that if you take matters into your own hands to ask the state to make your case a priority – and complete the process sooner – you may well have your record cleared before the July 2020 deadline. That could be major for many people with existing criminal records, who may be prevented from important educational, career and housing opportunities, as well as those who may be in the midst of a child custody dispute during which a drug conviction could adversely impact the outcome.
California isn’t the first state to take legislative action to allow retroactive remedy for those with prior cannabis convictions. Oregon did so when it legalized marijuana four years ago. Similar laws exist too in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maryland. Cities like San Francisco and San Diego also have laws that give those with prior convictions on certain marijuana crimes (possession, cultivation and manufacturing) to have avenues to have their records expunged or sealed. However, this is the first statewide measure that effectively automates that process. It’s estimated nearly 220,000 Californians will benefit from this process.
However, if you want a faster path to having your marijuana criminal record expunged, speaking with an Orange County marijuana lawyer with experience in criminal defense and evolving marijuana laws is your best option.
The Orange County CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Marijuana reform: New California law gives people with records a do-over, Oct. 1, 2018, By Lindsay Schnell, USA Today
More Blog Entries:
Danger of ‘De Facto” Cannabis Legalization for California Neighbors, Oct. 7, 2018, Orange County Marijuana Defense Attorney Blog