After California voters approved a measure in November 2016 to legalize recreational marijuana and allow convictions to be expunged, only 23 people came forward in San Francisco to petition for their cases to be cleared.
And so the San Francisco district attorney’s office teamed up with a nonprofit to find every eligible case, which DA George Gascón announced Monday will result in requests to judges to expunge 9,362 cases dating to 1975, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Numerous studies show that marijuana convictions disproportionately affect the poor and people of color, and can limit access to federal housing and loans.
A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that African Americans in San Francisco were more than four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as white people.
So few people took steps on their own to clear their records because of the cost and complexity involved, Gascón said, adding, “I hope that our success with Code for America can act as a catalyst for other leaders looking to engage in similar innovative and out-of-the-box methods to reform and rethink what our criminal justice system looks like.”
San Francisco was the first jurisdiction in the country to announce it would clear old marijuana convictions, prompting other district attorneys across the state and country to begin similar work.