Folks in Seattle may soon see their past cannabis convictions expunged, thanks to a new legal order.
The judges overseeing the Seattle Municipal Court have signed an order setting out a process to vacate and remove cannabis misdemeanors from 1996 to the end of cannabis prosecutions, which happened in 2010, Seattle PI reports.
The Seattle Municipal Court is overseen by seven judges. All seven judges on the court signed the order that starts the process for the removal of convictions. City Attorney Pete Holmes filed a motion in April seeking to vacate the convictions, arguing that it was the first step in righting the wrongs created during the war on drugs.
The order will vacate the convictions of 542 people in Seattle who were convicted after the duty of prosecuting cannabis misdemeanors was moved from county district courts to municipal courts.
Holmes became City Attorney for Seattle in 2010 and at that point ceased the prosecution of low-level cannabis crimes.
Seattle officials first announced their efforts to toss the misdemeanor cannabis convictions in February, when Mayor Jenny Durkan penned an op-ed in The Stranger that called for the dismissal of these cases.
“Addressing the wrongs that were caused by the failures of the war on drugs for many years in this country – and particularly the damage wrought on communities of color – won’t happen overnight. We must provide more effective alternatives to prosecution and incarceration through drug and mental health courts, restoring rights and supporting re-entry,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in an op-ed.
This move could represent a way forward in today’s climate of relaxed perception regarding cannabis use. Ideally, major metropolitan jurisdictions and states across the United States will someday work toward forgiveness of cannabis “crimes” in the past. Only by expunging these records can we truly heal as a nation in terms of cannabis reform, and move forward into a more High Society.