Expungement for Cannabis Crimes in Seattle
Seattle’s Mayor and other city officials are doing their part to reverse some of the injustices and damage done by the failed war on drugs.
They have filed a motion to vacate all convictions and drop all charges for cannabis possession for anyone arrested in the city in the past few decades.
A press release states that the proposed move would affect 542 people who continue to have weed convictions on their records.
“The war on drugs in large part became a war on people who needed opportunity and treatment. While we cannot reverse all the harm that was done, we must do our part to give Seattle residents – including immigrants and refugees – a clean slate," Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement, reported by The Hill.
“Vacating charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession is a necessary step to correct the injustices of what was a failed war on drugs, which disproportionately affected communities of color in Seattle,” added Mayor Durkan.
The motion from City Attorney Pete Holmes explicitly acknowledges the racial disproportionality of marijuana convictions, citing an ACLU report showing that African Americans are more than three times more likely to be arrested for pot possession than whites, despite equivalent rates of use.
“As we see marijuana sold in retail storefronts today, people who simply had a joint in their pocket a decade ago still have a red mark on their records,” said Holmes.
“It’s long past time we remedy the drug policies of yesteryear, and this is one small step to right the injustices of a drug war that has primarily targeted people of color. I’m hopeful the court will choose to clear these charges.”
Voters in Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the state in 2012.
Seattle's move to vacate convictions follows a similar move from Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who in February directed dozens of criminal charges of marijuana possession and announced he will no longer pursue charges in similar cases.