California law may turn pot convictions into misdemeanors

Last month Californians voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. What many do not know is that this new law allows for retroactive changes to the convictions of those convicted of felony pot possession.

What that means is that those convictions could be turned into misdemeanors.

Under Proposition 64, people who have been convicted of possession, transportation or cultivation of marijuana will be able to ask the Superior Court to reduce their felony convictions to misdemeanors.

It has long been hard for people with felony convictions to do things most people take for granted, like get a job. This new law is a gamechanger for these people as it could mean the felony is wiped from their records permanently.

In some cases, the charges could be dismissed altogether.

“It really helps,” Jane Gilbert, a supervising attorney in the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office said. “(A felony conviction) really impacts people’s ability to obtain employment, licensing, security clearances, even student loans.”

Proposition 64 passed into law with 57 percent of the vote and has expanded the existing medical marijuana laws in California. It will be legal for adults who are at least 21 to “use, possess, purchase and grow marijuana within defined limits.”

According to this new law, adults will be able to purchase or possess up to 28.5 grams of pot or grow as many as six plants on their property at a time.

Deputy District Attorney Rachel Solov says the law also changed the maximum penalty for those who sell, transport or grow pot to a misdemeanor. The penalty for these crimes would be up to 180 days in jail.

“So you could be driving with 5,000 pounds of dope in your van and get pulled over near Del Mar, it’s a misdemeanor,” she said.

However, the crime could become a felony if the defendant is a registered sex offender, has a drug sale conviction history or has a conviction on record for certain other felonies.

It should also be noted that transporting pot across state lines or into the United States through international borders are both still felonies.