Reclassifying Marijuana Convictions on Your Criminal Record Under California's New Proposition 64
On November 8, 2016, Californians took a major step towards ending the war on drugs and repairing some of the damage inflicted on people’s lives by marijuana prohibition, by passing Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Although, the most serious marijuana-related crimes such as providing marijuana to minors, or attempting to smuggle marijuana across state lines remain felonies, under Prop. 64, most marijuana-related misdemeanors and felonies have been reduced or altogether eliminated. These sweeping reductions in criminal penalties are retroactive, meaning past convictions for marijuana offenses reduced or eliminated under Prop. 64 can be reclassified on a criminal record with the courts for free.
The Drug Policy Alliance is working at all levels to ensure that as many people as possible obtain relief under Prop. 64. To that end, we have developed a new website, Myprop64.org, to serve as the hub for information on Prop. 64 relief and the implementation of the new law. Currently, visitors can find specific steps to reclassify marijuana related convictions, as well as links to the appropriate reclassification forms, free legal clinics, and contact information for their local courts and Public Defender’s offices.
Individuals with prior marijuana convictions on their criminal record, who are no longer in the criminal justice system – that is, not in jail or prison, or on probation or parole – can apply to the court where they were convicted, to have the offense(s) reclassified as a misdemeanor, infraction, or have it dismissed, no matter how old the conviction(s). The reclassification process can be done in five steps:
- Determine your eligibility,
- Obtain a copy of your “RAP Sheet” (criminal record),
- Fill out appropriate forms,
- Create three reclassification packets, and
- Submit reclassification packets at the court house where you were convicted for that offense.
Check out the “How to Change Your Record” infographic for more details. In general, the process for reclassifying your record will not involve a hearing, but you should work with a legal clinic, lawyer, or public defender to assist with the process.
After submitting your forms, the court may proceed without a hearing. In most counties, you will be notified by mail once the Superior Court has ordered and then recorded the reclassification. Some counties may require that you return to court to learn the status of your application. However, if there is a dispute and your application is denied, you will be entitled to a hearing. In some instances, it may be that your forms were completed incorrectly, which is why working with an attorney or legal clinic is so important. If you qualify, a public defender will represent you at this hearing.
Prop. 64 is a step towards repairing some of the damages caused by the draconian and punitive policies born out of the war on drugs. By reducing and removing the criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, we are simultaneously reducing the barriers to employment and housing. Moreover, we are creating opportunities for second chances by investing hundreds of millions of dollars of marijuana tax and licensing revenue into low-income communities that have been most negatively impacted by the war on drugs.
For more information on Prop. 64 reclassification please contact Policy Coordinator, Eunisses Hernandez at euhernandez [at] drugpolicy [dot] org. For information on the implementation of Prop. 64 please contact Policy Coordinator, Cat Packer at cpacker [at] drugpolicy [dot] org.
Eunisses Hernandez is a policy associate at the Drug Policy Alliance based in California. Cat Packer is a policy coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance based in California.