Prop 64 was passed back in 2016. It legalized personal possession and consumption of weed. Clearing cannabis convictions in California is also an important component of the law. Unfortunately, this was an aspect we’ve seen very little of since then. In fact, there are still thousands of people incarcerated and with criminal records for non-violent marijuana charges. It’s common for criminalization laws on marijuana to affect specifically certain communities, such as Black, POC, and lower-income.
Clearing Cannabis Convictions in California
The decriminalization of marijuana was meant to clear prisoners convicted with non-violent marijuana charges. This soon turned into the broken promises of Prop 64. The writing of Prop 64 allows those with marijuana convictions prior to 2016 to ask the court for an expungement. Prisoners and convicts who qualify can ask the court to dismiss and seal their convictions. Similarly, they could ask to have their conviction reduced to a lesser offense.
Though this is possible, the actual process is much more complicated and rare. In fact, there are still tens of thousands of Californians who are still stuck with felonies, misdemeanors, and other convictions on their records. This is ridiculous when you think about how common and accessible cannabis products have become in this day and age. The process of clearing cannabis convictions in California did not happen automatically as some hoped and dreamed.
This process is actually quite extensive and lengthy. There are thousands that have still not been fully processed. These delays in the process of clearing cannabis convictions greatly affect convicts. Felony records can impair someone from obtaining a job, a professional license, loans, and even housing. Nowadays, almost everything requires a background check. Non-violent offenders with marijuana charges should not have to suffer while marijuana businesses thrive.
Sara Rodriguez is a prime example of how the failures of inadequate law implementation are hurting people. Nearly two decades ago, Rodriguez was arrested due to possessing multiple small packets of weed in her car. She was convicted of a felony for possession of cannabis. She spent over 2 years in prison.
Eventually, she was released and went on being the first person in her family to go to college. She graduated from UCLA with a master’s degree in Social Welfare. Unfortunately, her felony conviction affects her ability to obtain a job. Rodriguez is not alone in this situation. Many courts, like the ones in San Bernardino where she was convicted, haven’t started processing cases.
According to the Last Prisoner Project, 15.7 million people are in prison for marijuana offenses. Many politicians recognize the failure of clearing cannabis convictions in California. In fact, California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta addressed these issues. Bonta wrote the law to clear criminal records in the proposition and has thus acknowledged the problems with its implementation.
Non-Profit Organizations Helping Cannabis Convicts
Although the process of clearing cannabis convictions is disappointingly long and rare, people can still find help. There are many non-profit organizations that dedicate themselves to providing aid to marijuana convicts. First, there’s the Last Prisoner Project. This organization is by far the most known. They work to highlight the injustices currently taking place in the world of cannabis and free every cannabis prisoner.
Then, there’s the Marijuana Policy Project. This organization focuses on marijuana policy initiatives. Their work engages in the national conversation about marijuana laws and racial reform.
Lastly, there’s Cannabis for Conservation. This organization connects the environment with social issues involved in cannabis production. They partner with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Most of their work is done through activism and education.
There are many more non-profit organizations that can aid those with cannabis convictions.
Prop 64: California Cannabis Laws and Penalties
Prop 64 gave adults over the age of 21 the ability to possess, consume, and cultivate their own personal weed. Though this information is enough for many of us to celebrate, there are some conditions you need to know. This is not some kind of free-for-all situation where you can do as you please with marijuana.
First, adults over the age of 21, or 18 with a medical card, can own up to an ounce of marijuana without penalty. If you are caught with 28.5 grams or less on school grounds, you will be charged with a misdemeanor with 10 days in jail and a $500 fine. Minors caught with 28.5 grams will also be charged with a misdemeanor and go to jail with a $250 fine.
Second, qualifying adults can gift each other 28.5 grams or less of weed. If an adult gifts marijuana to a minor, they can be charged with a felony and face up to 7 years in prison.
Lastly, an adult can own up to 6 plants with no problem. Any more and you could earn a misdemeanor.