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Seattle to Follow San Francisco and Clear Past Marijuana Convictions


Seattle will start automatically clearing misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions. City Attorney Pete Holmes has pushed for this action since recreational legalization took place. The state’s Legislature hasn’t moved fast enough, so Holmes hopes that the state of Washington will follow Seattle’s lead.

Seattle joins San Francisco and San Diego in erasing these convictions without a request for record expungement having to be made, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal. Seattle estimates that there are only between about 500 to 600 convictions to clear. Some convictions to be cleared date back as far as 1997. Holmes stopped prosecuting low-level marijuana cases completely in 2010.

Mayor Jenny Durkan said, “For thousands of people in Washington State, a misdemeanor marijuana conviction had huge implications. It could be a barrier to housing, to getting credit, to getting good jobs and education. It is a necessary step to right the wrongs of what was a failed war on drugs.”

Holmes said, “I have never filed one – except, as we understood it, one slipped by in that first few days in office, where a plea was entered. I’m anxious to find that particular one to make sure it’s teed up, right up front.”

A website will be created soon where those convicted of misdemeanor marijuana charges can check to see if their convictions have been erased. A single motion will be filed in municipal court to clear these convictions.