Seattle to Vacate Marijuana Convictions for all Arrests in City Past few Decades

Ben Keller

City officials announced Friday they filed a motion to vacate all convictions and drop all marijuana possession charges.

A press release from the city of Seattle states officials propose dropping all misdemeanor charges and convictions for anyone arrested in the city for possession in the past few decades

The proposal would reportedly impact 542 people who have convictions from the City of Seattle on their records.

"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," Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement.

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," she added.

In 2012, Washington voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Mayor Durkan also said in a statement that marijuana policies adversely affect undocumented immigrants living in Washington state, which creates a barrier to citizenship.

"Noncitizens have also been unduly burdened by these convictions, which can provide a roadblock to gaining citizenship, or in the worst case, can initiate deportation proceedings," she added.

City Attorney Pete Holmes agrees.

"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," he said during the Friday presser.

"It's long past time we remedy the drug policies of yesteryears, 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."

At least some of the over 500 people with convictions on their records for possessing a plant are likely hopefully as well.

Others are wondering if felony convictions will be next.


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