CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Oct. 10, 2022) — Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton expunged thousands of cannabis convictions. Now President Joe Biden is doing something similar.
The President made an announcement on October 6, 2022. Biden exercised the power of the pardon granted to him in Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution for 6,500 people who were convicted of marijuana possession at the federal level — and thousands in the District of Columbia.
Two years ago, District Attorney Diana Becton petitioned state court to withdraw guilty pleas or charges and dismiss the cases of 3,264 people in Contra Costa County for marijuana convictions.
At the time, D.A. Becton said, “Far too often, old criminal convictions for minor drug offenses can leave a lasting mark on an individual’s life. The removal of these convictions effectively reduces barriers to licensing, education, housing, and employment. It is imperative that we continue to be innovative in our approach to reforming and strengthening the criminal justice system.”
Support for reform
Voters in Contra Costa County have overwhelmingly supported reforming the state’s marijuana laws. Passage of Proposition 215 in 1996 for compassionate use and Proposition 64 in 2016 that legalized cannabis in the state demonstrates this support. Also the state legislature passed AB 1793 in 2018 to dismiss prior cannabis convictions.
On October 1, CoCo NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) organized a roundtable discussion in Rossmoor. The event included Concord City Councilman Edi Birsan, and County Board of Supervisor candidate, Ken Carlson. It also included Walnut Creek City Councilmember, Kevin Wilk, and Walnut Creek City Council candidates, Brian O’Toole and Laura Patch. The group designed the discussion to assist local political leaders in navigating issues related to cannabis consumption and sales.
Prior to the roundtable, CoCo NORML presented D.A. Becton with their inaugural Cannabis Justice Award. The award acknowledged her leadership in expunging prior cannabis convictions in Contra Costa County.