CA: Yolo County To Clear Past Marijuana Convictions

Photo Credit: John Vizcaino

Yolo County prosecutors and public defenders could clear the record for hundreds of marijuana crimes.

The departments announced the plan this week to provide Proposition 64 relief for some with pot-related convictions.

Even though recreational marijuana is now legal, many people still deal with the challenges of a pot conviction on their record. Kathy Reynolds has friends still facing the consequences.

“They had marijuana in possession when it was illegal, and it’s a big mark on your record,” Reynolds said.

“This is important because California voters passed Prop. 64, which is what changed the law and decriminalized a lot of these offenses — and also reduced the penalty for some,” Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig said.

Reisig said his office identified 711 eligible cases since 2009.

“We went back to 2009 because that’s where we have the best data,” he said. “Before that, our case management system wasn’t as efficient at identifying those records.”

Reisig said people who may qualify for Prop. 64 relief can contact his office or the public defender’s office and apply for a petition.

“If they’re entitled to relief, they don’t even have to come to court,” Reisig said.

Heidi Dagostino works with people who are trying to move into the regulatory cannabis market. She said the plan would help lift barriers for some clients.

“Even kids get out of timeout, eventually,” Dagostino said. “So some of the folks who now have prior convictions may want to enter that lawful regulatory space and want to become licensed and get their permits. And licenses may be barred from (them) because of an old conviction.”

Some people question the shift in resources within the DA’s office, which is known to stay busy prosecuting high-profile crimes.

“They got a lot of better things they can be doing,” Yolo County resident Forrest Roberts said.

But if it’s giving people a second chance, Roberts said it’s a step in the right direction.

“It could be a good thing,” he added.

San Francisco and San Diego have also been working to provide Prop. 64 relief.
Yolo County modeled its plan to deal with past marijuana convictions based on what’s being done in San Diego. There is no cost for the petition process in Yolo County.