New law gives chance of clearing marijuana convictions

New law gives chance of clearing marijuanarelated convictions

In 2016, nearly 8,000 adults and minors in California were arrested for marijuana-related offenses, according to the California attorney general crime report.

While people know Proposition 64 for legalizing recreational marijuana, the law could now get some people off the hook for past offenses.

"We all knew all along that cannabis wasn't dangerous," said Joy Meredith, president of the Joy of Life Wellness Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in Palm Springs.

Meredith splits her time between her other business, in downtown Palm Springs, and her dispensary. While preparing for recreational marijuana sales after the rollout of Proposition 64, she said the best part, for her, involves helping people get a clean slate. by reducing or removing almost any convictions related to past or current marijuana crimes.

"It might be hard for them to get a job. It might be hard for them to get public housing. It might be hard for them to get any kind of public assistance. It could've had a bad effect in a custody or divorce hearing," Meredith said.

Meredith supports the provision, she herself had a legal issue. 

"I had an experience like that as well. I already have it put behind me, but I'm glad for other people that they have this opportunity to clean up their records," Meredith said.

More than 4,800 people have petitioned to have their current cases reduced or dismissed. In Riverside County, 60 adult petitions have been filed this year alone.

Officials with the Desert Hot Springs Police Department said they are concerned about that provision in Proposition 64, especially with those who have multiple offenses.

"When you have repeat offenders that were clearly flaunting the law, doing whatever they felt like they were going to do and truly endangering communities by conducting their illegal activities, It's very troubling that this state has decided, 'Well, we're just going to forgive them,'" said Desert Hot Springs Police Chief Dale Mondary.

Both Mondary and Meredith hope people are familiar with the law in 2018. 

"It allows people now to put things behind them and get back on with their lives," Meredith said.

We also found out that more than 800 people in Riverside County who have already served their sentences for past marijuana crimes are now looking to get their convictions dismissed, sealed or redesignated.

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