Seattle wipes criminal marijuana convictions for hundreds of people

More than 500 people could be impacted by the vacated sentences

Marijuana eater? A mouse. (Rex Features)

Clark Mindock
New York
Saturday 28 April 2018 19:19
Washington Sate legalized recreational marijuana in 2012
Washington Sate legalized recreational marijuana in 2012

Officials in Seattle are taking a step to vacate every misdemeanour marijuana conviction in the past few decades in a major step for the city since the state legalised recreational marijuana.

The city says that the motion to vacate the marijuana convictions would impact more than 500 people.

“Vacating charges for misdemeanour marijuana possession is a necessary step to correct the injustices of what was a failed war on drugs, which disproportionately affected communities of colour in Seattle,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement.

“The war on drugs in large part became a war on people who needed opportunity and treatment. While we cannot reverse all the harm that was done, we must do our part to give Seattle residents — including immigrants and refugees — a clean slate,” she added.

Washington State voters approved the legalisation of recreational marijuana in 2012, following in the footsteps of states like Colorado that pioneered legalised marijuana laws.

In the statement, Ms Durkan said that punitive marijuana policies adversely impact the undocumented immigrant community in Seattle more than other groups, and that those people deserve protections.

“Non-citizens have also been unduly burdened by these convictions, which can provide a roadblock to gaining citizenship, or in the worst case, can initiate deportation proceedings,“ she said.

Seattle is not the only state to have pushed for more lenient marijuana policies.

In Philadelphia, Distract Attorney Larry Crasser instructed his staff in February to stop criminal prosecutions for marijuana possessions.

“I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do,” Mr Krasner said at the time. ”We could use those resources to solve homicides.“