Seattle has filed a motion with Seattle Municipal Court to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for marijuana possession for people prosecuted by the city from 1997 to 2010, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes announced Friday.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Friday that if approved by the court, 542 people would have their records affected. In 2010, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes stopped charging for marijuana possession when he first assumed office.
“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,” 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.
“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. Today wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of City Attorney Holmes, who has been a strong voice for ending this injustice. I want to acknowledge that we would not be here today without the advocacy (of) many other members of our community who have been fighting for restorative justice.”
A plan to vacate misdemeanor marijuana convictions that occurred before pot became legal was announced in February. At the time, similar to her statement Friday, Durkan said people’s lives were ruined for misdemeanor marijuana offenses and the action would be a first step in putting progressive values into action.
The announcement said members of the public can find out if they have a misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction by visiting the Seattle Municipal Court Portal.
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