San Francisco’s district attorney, George Gascon, has announced that potentially thousands of past criminal convictions for minor marijuana offenses will be reduced or expunged, now that recreational use of cannabis is legal in California. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend. It just makes sense, when voters or a legislature decide that an activity should no longer be illegal, to apply that standard retroactively. All across the country, millions of otherwise law-abiding folks are dealing with the consequences for having a joint or two, often decades past. Those consequences range from having to check a box on a job application to endangered professional certifications to even being denied the rights to vote or own a firearm. More than 100 million Americans have used marijuana at some point in their lives. Until a few short years ago, every single one of those millions has broken the law. If weed is no longer a crime, why are people still behind bars?
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