Bonta bill would make it easier for people to expunge cannabis-related criminal records

Assemblymember Rob Bonta authored the
state’s medical marijuana regulatory
framework in 2015.

18TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
With cannabis seen as the future in California following legalization that began this month, East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta believes the state must first look to reconcile its past.

Bonta introduced a bill Tuesday that will make it easier for those convicted of outdated cannabis-related charges to remove them from their records.

At a press conference in Sacramento to unveil Assembly Bill 1793, Bonta said the war of crime disproportionately targeted young people and minority groups.

“Long after paying their debt to society, the collateral consequences of having a criminal conviction continues to disrupt their lives in profound ways such as preventing them from gaining employment or finding housing,” said Bonta.

Proposition 64 not only legalized adult-use cannabis, but made many criminal offenses retroactive. Bonta said he will “protect the will of 57 percent of the voters,” a reference to the margin of support for Prop. 64 in November 2016.

Bonta was the main architect of the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, the state’s first regulatory framework passed in 2015.

Exactly how the state and county courts will eliminate or reduce cannabis-related criminal offenses from people’s record is unclear. In addition, Bonta acknowledged there will be monetary costs involved with the bill, but an exact amount is not yet known.

“The role of government should be to ease burdens and expedite the operation of law— not create unneeded obstacles. This is a practical, common sense bill. These individuals are legally-entitled to expungement or reduction and delay a fresh start. It should be implemented without unnecessary delay or burden,” said Bonta.

Yet, despite language within Prop. 64, the bill is likely to be controversy for some lawmakers.  “There will be opposition,” said Bonta. But he believes public opinion is strongly on the side of legalization. He added, “People are willing to listen.”

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