California to Vote On Wiping Old Weed Arrests

Article by Meredith Rutland Bauer, Motherboard

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California’s ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana could be a beacon of hope for anyone with a criminal record for using or possessing weed.

Proposition 64 would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older. But it would also allow judges to resentence individuals convicted of weed-related crimes, and for the destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions. That’s important because about 15,000 to 20,000 people in California are arrested every year for misdemeanor and felony marijuana crimes, according to an August report by the Drug Policy Alliance, a national advocacy non-profit.

The ballot measure would legalize using, possessing and growing marijuana, with restrictions. Adults could possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and up to eight grams of concentrated marijuana, such as hash. Private individuals could grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes, and greater quantities would be subject to state licensing and regulation.

If passed, the measure could provide a lighter or expunged record for people previously arrested for misdemeanors for possessing small amounts of marijuana, growing marijuana or for using weed without a medical marijuana card.

California has already reduced the severity of the requirements of weed-related crimes, making low-level possession of about one ounce or less an infraction in 2011, similar to a parking ticket, rather than an offense requiring an arrest, according to pro-marijuana group NORML. Minor possession was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in 1976, and medical marijuana was legalized in 1996.

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