In its ongoing effort to end the nation’s extremely costly and quite racist 50-year War on Drugs, Los Angeles County prosecutors announced Monday that they are dismissing the cannabis convictions of 58,000 people who were busted before California legalized the substance in 2018.
This brings the number of weed enthusiasts who’ve had their convictions tossed in the county to nearly 125,000, as another 66,000 were dismissed last year as well, the Independent reports.
L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón said the legal relief is intended to “reverse the injustice” of a national crusade launched in 1971 by President Richard Nixon, and which has since cost the U.S. an estimated $1 trillion and counting.
“Dismissing these convictions means the possibility of a better future to thousands of disenfranchised people who are receiving this long-needed relief,” Gascón said Monday. “It clears the path for them to find jobs, housing, and other services that previously were denied to them because of unjust cannabis laws.”
The statewide referendum that legalized cannabis in California, Proposition 64, won the approval of 57 percent of voters in 2016 and established a process for getting people off the hook for pot violations that predated legalization. Gascón—a coauthor of Prop 64—and the nonprofit Social Impact Center worked to identify convictions going back to 1975 that were eligible for erasure.
L.A. County Alternate Public Defender, Erika Anzoategui, who represents people when their cases present a conflict of interest for the official public defender, applauded the move.
“This sends the right signal to the community that the nation was wrong in its ‘war on marijuana’ and that criminal convictions for marijuana offenses have a disproportionately negative impact on communities of color,” Anzoategui said in a joint statement with the DA’s office. “We join DA Gascón in removing roadblocks to employment, housing and education through the dismissal and sealing of these convictions.”
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