June 22, 2024

Seattle moves to vacate hundreds of marijuana convictions over a 14 year period

Seattle marijuana thegrio.com
People protest on the steps of New York City Hall in support of the proposed Fairness and Equity Act, which would attempt to reform racially biased arrests in regards to marijuana possession in New York state. Now, Seattle is now taking a bold action to vacate hundreds of marijuana-related convictions that occurred within a 14 year period. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Advocates and public officials have long complained that too many people – particularly people of color – are behind bars for low-level drug convictions. As a result, Seattle is now taking a bold action to vacate hundreds of marijuana-related convictions.

City officials announced Friday that they are vacating all convictions and dropping all charges for marijuana possession for anyone arrested in Seattle over a 14-year period of time, according to various news organizations including TheHill.com.

The move will affect 524 people, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said.

“Vacating charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession is a necessary step to correct the injustices of what was a filed war on drugs, which disproportionately affected communities of color in Seattle,” Durkan said in a statement published by The Hill.

“The war on drugs in large part became a war on people who needed opportunity and treatment,” Durkan said. “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.”

The move dates back to a motion filed in April by Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for cases from 1996 to 2010 “to right the injustices of a drug war that has primarily targeted people of color,” the Seattle Times reported.

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All seven Seattle Municipal Court judges signed an order on Sept. 11 beginning the process for getting rid of the cases.

Said Holmes, “We’ve come a long way, and I hope this action inspires other jurisdictions to follow suit.”

Durkan said in a statement published by the Seattle Times, “For too many who call Seattle home, a misdemeanor marijuana conviction or charge has created barriers to opportunity – good jobs, housing, loans and education.”

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The window affected begins in 1996 because that is when the city of Seattle took over misdemeanor prosecutions from its surrounding Kings County, according to the Times. It ends in 2010 because that is the year that Seattle stopped prosecuting such offenses, the Times reported.

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