CA: Alameda County Prosecutors Aim To Dismiss Thousands Of Cannabis Convictions

Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Weber

Alameda County will dismiss, reduce or seal decades of marijuana-related convictions, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said Tuesday, clearing thousands of people of activities that California no longer deems crimes.

Barring unusual circumstances or facts, felony cases will be reduced to misdemeanors, and misdemeanors will be dismissed, O’Malley said. The move is in line with new state regulations that allow prior convictions to be redesignated or erased.

O’Malley’s timeline differs slightly from that of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who said last month he would circumvent the petitioning process and automatically expunge or reduce decades of cannabis convictions.

O’Malley said her office will first sign onto petitions of those who come forward after a background review and meeting. She said prosecutors will work with court officials to ultimately expunge all qualifying cases, even if the subjects can’t be reached or don’t file a petition.

From November 2016, when the drug was legalized in California, to December last year, O’Malley said 609 cases were dismissed. She said her office has so far identified 5,900 cases associated with 5,000 individuals that are eligible to be erased.

The district attorney’s case-management system only includes records since 1974, and O’Malley said she will ask the county to review older cases as well.

“California is offering a second chance to people convicted of cannabis crimes, from felonies to small infractions, with the opportunity to have their criminal records cleared,” O’Malley said in a statement. “We join our state officials and intend to reverse decades of cannabis convictions that can be a barrier for people to gain meaningful employment.”

Those who think they are eligible for a conviction expungement may email