Seattle is living up to its name as the “City of Goodwill.”
Judges in Seattle, Washington, have agreed to throw out past misdemeanor convictions for cannabis possession. The convictions to be dismissed involve misdemeanor cases prosecuted from around 1996 to 2010, when cannabis has not yet been legalized in the state.
Why 1996 to 2010?
The year 1996 was when the municipal courts began handling these misdemeanor cases. It used to be the county district courts that dealt with them.
Meanwhile, 2010 was when City Attorney Pete Holmes assumed office and entirely stopped prosecuting low-level marijuana cases.
The motion and the ruling
According to a report by the Seattle Times, all seven Seattle Municipal Court judges signed an order that set out a process for vacating these past pot-related cases.
Holmes had filed a motion in April seeking the court’s dismissal of the convictions.
In his motion, Holmes argued that the possession of small quantities of weed is no longer considered illegal and, therefore, clearing previous convictions would correct the injustices of their war on drugs. He acknowledged that the drug war primarily targeted people of color.
The report noted that more than 500 people could benefit from the ruling. It is estimated that the convictions will be dismissed by mid-November.
A long way
Holmes said that the city has come a long way and that he hopes this move will inspire other jurisdictions to do the same.
Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan likewise welcomed the court’s decision. She said that this would give convicted people a clean slate.
Durkan said that, for many Seattle residents, a misdemeanor marijuana charge or conviction created barriers to various opportunities. These opportunities include good jobs, loans, housing, and education.
Cannabis legalization in the U.S.
The possession of cannabis became legal in Washington in 2012.
Currently, there are a total of 30 states in the U.S. that allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Washington state has legalized medical cannabis since 1998.
As for the recreational use of cannabis, nine states (plus Washington D.C.) have already legalized it, subject to certain regulations related to the cultivation of the plant and the sale of cannabis products.
Because of the cannabis legislative reforms, U.S. figures show that the arrests related to cannabis trafficking are falling.