The City of Seattle plans to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions prosecuted by the city before pot was legalized in Washington. It said from 2001 to 2010, police in Washington arrested young African-Americans and Latinos 2.9 and 1.6 times the rate of whites, respectively, even though those groups used marijuana at lower rates than young whites.
As NPR reported, District Attorney George Gascón said his office will dismiss and seal 3,038 misdemeanor convictions dating back before the state's legalization of marijuana went into effect, with no action necessary from those who were convicted. Ike's especially became a target for critics who accused the shop and the I-502 system of fostering gentrification and lacking equity for people of color who had been unfairly targeted for past marijuana prosecution. "Too many here in our community faced huge legal bills and fines, or had a harder time getting loans, apartments, and good-paying jobs".
Last week the city of San Francisco announced that they would be clearing all marijuana convictions from 1975 to today from their records.
The City of Spokane said there have been more than 1800 misdemeanor marijuana convictions since 1997.
Holmes will be asking the Seattle Municipal Court to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for marijuana possession prosecuted by the city.
Nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana, and voters are viewing legalization with increasing favorability ― meaning many other areas face questions on what to do about past convictions that no longer conform to policy. The state included a legal avenue for people with past convictions to see them erased, but the process was not widely known and sometimes required costly attorneys.
This article has been updated with details from Thursday's press conference.
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