Seattle Moves to Clear Residents of Marijuana Misdemeanor Charges

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 10:52 AM PT — Fri. February 9, 2018

Lawmakers in Seattle, Washington are proposing new legislation to clear residents of prior marijuana convictions.

More than five years after the state of Washington legalized marijuana, Seattle lawmakers are moving to wipe their citizens’ criminal records clean.

In an announcement Thursday, Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Planner Pete Holmes announced a plan to undo all misdemeanor convictions for anyone who was charged with marijuana possession from 1997 to 2010.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, left, looks on as Mayor Jenny Durkan speaks at a news conference announcing plans for the city to move to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Seattle. City Council member Bruce Harrell looks on at right. Five years after Washington state legalized marijuana, Seattle officials say they’re moving to automatically clear past misdemeanor convictions for pot possession. San Francisco recently took the same step. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

“Today we are announcing that the city of Seattle will be asking the Seattle Municipal Court to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for all misdemeanor marijuana possession,” announced Mayor Durkan.

The move would only apply to those who were at least 21-years-old at the time of their conviction, but officials estimate as many as 600 people could be cleared of charges.

Although Mayor Durkan tried many drug cases during her time as an attorney, she admits city officials were wrong to prosecute low level marijuana cases and hopes this will help convicted residents rebuild their lives.

“If you go to get an apartment or you go to get a job, often people have the questions ‘have you been convicted of a crime?’…If the answer is yes, for many people that’s the end of the story,” Durkan explained. “They didn’t get the job…they didn’t get the apartment, and this is to make up for those past mistakes.”

While the motion has already received widespread support from city lawmakers, the courts will make the final decision on the matter.

If implemented, Seattle will follow cities such as San Francisco, who have already dismissed over 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions.