By now, most California residents are familiar with Proposition 64, which was passed by California voters in 2016. Proposition 64 amended the California Health and Safety Code by adding The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (“AUMA”), which legalizes the most responsible adult use of marijuana while both taxing and permitting regulated sales.
Among the lesser known provisions of AUMA are detailed provisions allowing some individuals convicted of marijuana charges prior to the passage of Prop 64 to petition the court for expungement of their convictions or a reduction in charges from felonies to misdemeanors.
San Francisco’s District Attorney George Gascón recently announced that his office will voluntarily vacate about 3,000 per-2016 misdemeanor marijuana charges and review approximately 5,000 felony cases for possible reduction to misdemeanors, all without requiring the defendant to file a petition. Legislation has also been introduced in Sacramento that would make automatic expungements of misdemeanors mandatory statewide.
If you were convicted of a marijuana-related offense prior to the enactment of Proposition 64 and are interested in possible expungement or reduction in sentence, you should enlist the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. We would be pleased to evaluate your case and advise you as to your options.
Like many aspects of AUMA, the rules regarding expungement are complex and subject to numerous exceptions and qualifications, particularly when the offense was committed by or otherwise involved a minor child. With that in mind, however, here is some general information regarding expungement or reduction after Prop 64.
AUMA legalized each of the offenses below. A petition to expunge a conviction or guilty plea based on these previous violations should, therefore, be readily granted. The charges will be dismissed and all records relating to the arrest and prosecution will be sealed.
- Possession, transport, purchase or giving away to another adult:
- One ounce (28.5 grams) or less of marijuana
- 8 grams of less of concentrated cannabis (possibly 4 grams or less; Prop 64 is inconsistent on this point)
- Marijuana accessories
- Possession, cultivation or processing of six or fewer living marijuana plants
- Smoking or otherwise ingesting marijuana products
Note also that the court may still deny an expungement request if it determines that the defendant poses an unreasonable risk to public safety.
Reduction of Charges
AUMA also reduced from felonies to misdemeanors certain other marijuana-related offenses. In some instances, however, the charge may not be eligible for a reduction if the defendant has convictions or violations of other specified laws.
- Possession by a person age 18 or older of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana or more than 4grams of concentrated cannabis.
- A person age 18 or older growing more than six marijuana plants.
- Possession by a person age 18 or over 28.5 grams of marijuana or more with the intent to sell. If the quantity was 28.5 grams or less, this offense is now treated as an “infraction” similar to a citation for a minor traffic offense
- Importation into the state by a person age 18 or older any marijuana for sale