Seattle, Marijuana

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Seven city municipal court judges in Seattle said they threw out over 500 convictions this week for misdemeanor marijuana possessions because they unfairly targeted people of color, CNN reports.

In their decision, the judges said that 46 percent of those cases involved African-American defendants.



“We’ve taken another important step to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs, and to build true economic opportunity for all,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan, per CNN. “While we cannot reverse all the harm that was done, we will continue to act to give Seattle residents — including immigrants and refugees — a clean slate.”

According to U.S. Census data, African-Americans make up just 7 percent of Seattle’s population.

A further breakdown of the cases revealed that 46 percent White, 3 percent Asian, 3 percent Native American and 2 percent unknown people were convicted in the cases, which took place between 1996 and 2010, per CNN.

Recreational marijuana use was legalized in Seattle in 2012 by Washington voters.

Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes filed a motion in April for the convictions to be dismissed, stating that African-Americans were three times more likely to be arrested for pot possession than White people.

Per the motion:

Dismissing this charge reflects Seattle’s values and recognizes the negative collateral consequences of a drug conviction, including difficulty in finding employment or getting into college or the military, obtaining student loans or government subsidized housing qualifying for food stamps or other government assistance, being allowed entry into some foreign countries and obtaining child custody or adoption.

Seattle is joining a growing list of cities and states dismissing past marijuana possession cases.

California politicians voted in August to expunge old marijuana convictions, and a Manhattan district attorney’s office dismissed 3,042 convictions earlier this month for marijuana smoking and possession.





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