Judges in Seattle, Washington have voted to throw out cannabis convictions from the years 1996 and 2010. This ruling comes 6 years after the state of Washington legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2012.
It is estimated that over 542 people could have their marijuana convictions reversed as early as November.
Many have noted the significance of the Seattle judges’ ruling, especially the impact the ruling will have on people of color.
When advocating for the decision, City Attorney Pete Holmes pleaded with the judges to “right the injustices of a drug war that has primarily targeted people of color.”
The order states:
“Possession of Marijuana charges prosecuted in Seattle Municipal Court between 1996 and 2010 disproportionately impacted persons of color in general, and the African American community in particular. Of the over 500 cases involved in this motion, the racial demographics of defendants were: 3% Asian, 46% black, 46% white, 3% Native American, 2% unknown. The Court makes no finding that these numbers are 100% accurate, or that individual defendants were specifically impacted because of their race.”
Seattle’s Major, Jenny Durkan, is also in favor of the ruling, stating, “for too many who call Seattle home, a misdemeanor marijuana conviction or charge has created barriers to opportunity – good jobs, housing, loans, and education.”
Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use. In addition to this, a staggering 30 states have medical marijuana programs in place. Nevertheless, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level in the United States.
The Seattle judges’ decision will no doubt offer many Seattle residents a clean slate and a chance to take advantage of opportunities that were previously closed off to them.
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