420 with CNW – Seattle Court Agrees to Vacate Marijuana Misdemeanor Convictions

October 3, 2018 15:20:49

All the seven judges of the Seattle Municipal Court have agreed to vacate all the convictions for marijuana possession dating back to 1996 when cannabis had not yet been decriminalized. The judges also made a decision to dismiss all cannabis possession charges against anyone who was being prosecuted within the jurisdiction.

This decision is the culmination of a process that started in February when Peter Holmes, the City Attorney, filed a motion calling on the court to take this historic action. He said that step was needed to right the wrongs committed against people of color, especially African Americans, who had been targeted during the drug war. Approximately 46% of all people prosecuted were African American.

The judges agreed with his motion and directed that the state should provide the last known addresses of the individuals affected by the court’s decision so that notices could be mailed to them about what has been agreed upon by the judges. About 542 individuals could benefit from the court’s ruling.

The people with marijuana criminal records now have 33 days within which to object to the court’s decision or file a request for an individualized finding.

Jenny Durkan, the Seattle mayor, welcomed the decision saying that the misdemeanor record had denied hundreds of people numerous opportunities ranging from jobs, education, housing and loans. Vacating the convictions would therefore give the affected people a chance to rebuild their lives even if the harm they suffered earlier could not be undone.

The period covered by the court’s decision was determined based on the years during which the Seattle Municipal Court had jurisdiction over marijuana misdemeanor cases. That jurisdictional authority started in 1996.

The decision to vacate those convictions hasn’t just dropped upon the city. Earlier in 2003, a decision was made by the voters to compel law enforcement agencies to take marijuana possession cases to the bottom of their priority list.

In 2010, another major step was taken by the City Attorney (Holmes) to halt the prosecution of people for cannabis possession.

It has taken months to figure out how to implement the decision to vacate the convictions because non-citizens would still be regarded as ex-cons by the immigration authorities since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

The court decided that any non-citizen who wanted a ruling that their previous marijuana conviction could no longer affect them in an immigration court could apply in that 33-day window mentioned in the court’s decision. Phivida Holdings Inc. (CSE: VIDA) (OTCQX: PHVAF) and SinglePoint, Inc. (OTCQB: SING) must be glad that the court gave ex-cons that clean slate since the measure can be an additional way to remove the stigma that has shrouded marijuana for so long.

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