California Cases 90% Sealed

Stephen Andrews
17 Jul 2023

The State Attorney General's report shows that California courts have processed relief for 90 percent of eligible marijuana-related cases. As of April 6, 2023, the state's judicial system has sealed a total of 206,052 cases.

An estimated 227,650 cannabis cases were identified as eligible for sealing following the passage of records reform legislation that the governor of California signed in 2018. The latest report reveals that about 90 percent of those cases have been sealed, resentenced or dismissed. All cases concern eligible marijuana convictions for activity that was legalized under the 2016 voter-approved initiative. 

The report was released last month by Attorney General Rob Bonta's office and clearly illustrates that most Californian counties have done a pretty good job at bringing justice for convicts of past drug laws. 

Clemency is integrated in every cannabis reform. In California, it came as part of Proposition 64 in 2016. The voter approved measure effectively legalized marijuana possession, cultivation and sales, and it also provided an option for those with prior marijuana charges to petition the courts for relief. Governor Gavim Newsom signed the bill into law in 2018, creating a pathway for automatic expungement. 

The governor also signed another piece of legislation in 2022 that built upon the state’s record sealing law by urging courts until March 1, 2023 to seal records for qualifying cannabis cases that weren’t challenged by July 1, 2020. 

The same bill also requires that the California Department of Justice produces quarterly progress reports to the legislature by working together with the Judicial Council of California. Therefore, this is the second report that has been released by the AG office. The first one was produced in January, and it stated that by that point the courts had processed 197,205 marijuana cases. 

The next quarterly AG’s report is due in September and it will show whether California counties have reached 100% compliance.

Not all counties in the Golden State have made equal progress, however. Marked progress has been made in counties such as El Dorado, Humboldt, Kern, Madera, Napa, Riverside, Sacramento and Sutter. The least compliance is observed in Imperial County, where only 7.9 percent of all cases have been processed. Or that is 258 of potential 1,767 convictions. 

Stephen Andrews