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Clearing old drug charges can be easier with California bill

Recently relaxed pot laws have created an environment in which old convictions can have less of an impact for previous offenders. In California, Proposition 64 made anyone convicted of past marijuana crimes able to petition the court to have the charges reduced or dismissed. In the era of legalization, old drug charges should not affect a person's ability to work or find housing. 

A new bill proposed would take Proposition 64 even further, by making the court system expunge or downgrade the charges automatically without the person needing to petition the court. Currently, the person must take the initiative to move forward and clear the record, sometimes with the help of a lawyer. A state solution to clear all the charges at once may take an initial investment of funds but could actually reduce the cost of clearing the charges person by person. 

Not to mention, many individuals aren't aware that they have the ability to change their marijuana-related criminal records. Even certain marijuana-related felony charges can be reduced to a misdemeanor under the current state law. Advocates of the new bill are hailing it as a common sense move, but it is still being reviewed and is not yet part of the law. 

Drug charges such as marijuana possession and sales can certainly affect a person's quality of life. The opportunity to reduce the severity of the charge, or have it removed from one's record completely, can give a person increased options and reduced stigma, allowing them to live life as a fully functioning member of society. Currently in California, many of those who wish to have the charges removed work with a criminal law attorney for legal assistance with the process. 

Source:, "California might make it easier to clear your criminal record of cannabis", Dan Mitchell, Jan. 10, 2018

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