When California voters legalized marijuana use and allowed commercial growing and retail dispensaries in 2016, Proposition 64 also allowed some marijuana-related criminal convictions to be resentenced or dismissed.
Not many people were petitioning for that, and Assembly Bill 1793 was passed in the Legislature to make the state Department of Justice review records in its criminal history information database and identify potentially eligible cases.
In 2019, the department sent each county’s prosecuting agency a list of people and case convictions that were eligible to be reduced or removed under AB 1793, according to state Attorney General Rob Bonta, who wrote the bill when he represented an Alameda County district in the Assembly.
In Santa Barbara County, the District Attorney’s Office submitted 1,728 cases (including 1,578 felonies and 150 misdemeanors) to the county Superior Court.
All of those cases were forwarded to the Department of Justice in November, Superior Court executive officer Darrel Parker told Noozhawk.
“We opposed none of the reductions, so locally everyone eligible would have received this sentencing benefit,” Assistant District Attorney John Savrnoch said.
Generally, misdemeanor possession of marijuana convictions have been reduced to infractions and dismissed, and most possession-for-sale cases were reduced to misdemeanors from felonies, he explained.
“What it means is that someone who had a prior criminal history for a misdemeanor conviction will show no conviction,” Savrnoch said. “Someone with a felony record will now show a misdemeanor conviction.”
Certain possession of cannabis-for-sale cases can still be charged as felony allegations in certain circumstances, including for people with specific prior convictions and people accused of knowingly selling to minors, he noted.
When asked how the Probation Department approaches marijuana use and possession among people on probation, Chief Probation Officer Tanja Heitman said it is handled similarly to alcohol — another legal substance that some people on probation are prohibited from using.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Giana Magnoli on Noozhawk
Published: January 31, 2022
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News