San Diego

Pre-Legalization Marijuana Law Violators Petition for Prison Release, Record Reductions

So far, 680 people have been given relief, according to District Attorney Summer Stephan.

Hundreds of San Diegans locked up on marijuana charges have been released from jail and thousands more are eligible to get their criminal records reduced or even cleared.

Since Proposition 64 passed in November of 2016 legalizing the use of recreational marijuana in California, the District Attorney's office has been working to free people with certain marijuana convictions.

Nearly 4,700 people with past felony and misdemeanor pot convictions in San Diego County could have their records expunged or downgraded, according to the DA. 

DA Summer Stephan said that once Prop 64 passed, her office began searching their records for people who qualified.

So far, 680 people have been given relief, according to Stephan.

"We worked with public defenders and with the court to expedite so that no one is in custody serving time and being in prison when the law says they shouldn't be," Stephan said.

Attorney Michael Cindrich says he's represented or consulted between 20 and 30 people who've petitioned to get their criminal records cleared.

"The majority of people I represent aren't typical criminals," Cindrich said. "They aren't violent people. In many cases, they were seeking to help sick individuals people suffering from medical conditions who may have run afoul of the law, and just because they ran afoul of the law doesn't mean they should be left behind bars."

Prior felony offenses like possession, transportation or growing marijuana can now be reduced to misdemeanors under Prop 64.

Stephan said that, hopefully, will give the former felons a better shot at life.

"Our hope is that our community is safe and that this chance, this second chance people get, they use it to get legal employment and they use it so they can be productive members of the community."

The DA's office is working with a dedicated judge to help expedite the process.

Rulings can be made about a week after a petition is filed.

People with sex offense charges and other violent felonies are among those disqualified from petitioning for relief.

You can get more information on the petition process here.

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