Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Markets | By Rosalie Gross

City of Seattle moves to vacate misdemeanor marijuana cases

City of Seattle moves to vacate misdemeanor marijuana cases

A news release from Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes says there were 240,000 pot arrests between 1986 and 2010, including more than 65,000 in King County. "This action is a necessary first step in righting the wrongs of the past and putting our progressive values into action", said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Thursday.

Seattle's mayor and city attorney plan to ask the courts to vacate all misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions that were prosecuted before the plant was legalized in Washington state in 2012. But the Legislature has yet to act, and Holmes said he hoped the city's action would spur other jurisdictions and the state itself. If a person has been convicted of a crime that is now legal under state law, the city will make a motion on their behalf that, according to the release, "will not require any action by individuals". "And so while we cannot reverse all the harm that was done, we can give back to those people a record that says they were not convicted, because that is the more just thing to do". In Washington State, African Americans were arrested at 2.9 times the rate of whites.

He said the the presiding judge for Seattle Municipal Court is in favor of the proposal.

California's Proposition 64, which passed in 2016, is the only state legalization measure that included provisions for clearing old convictions, including having felonies reduced to misdemeanors.

"If you go to get an apartment or you go to get a job, often people have the questions 'have you been convicted of a crime?'..."

That helped prompt San Diego and San Francisco to start doing it en masse.

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Seattle's City Attorney's office will now work to obtain a list of marijuana convictions that happened between 1997 and 2010.

Unlike the Seattle City Attorney's Office, Gascon's handles felonies as well as misdemeanors.

And Seattle citizens with misdemeanor charges need only qualify for their conviction to be erased.

Listen: "Think Out Loud" talks with George Gascon. "If the county wanted to make this a priority and devote some resources to it, it could be done, but I don't want to do it at the expense of the mainline criminal cases that are coming in every day".

Between 2000 and 2010 alone, more than 129,000 Washingtonians were arrested for simple possession of marijuana.

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