Assembly Bill 1793 – What it Means For Those With Prior California Cannabis Convictions

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a number of cannabis bills that were passed within the last year into law. Assembly Bill 1793 should be of particular interest to those with California State cannabis convictions in their past. AB 1793 allows those with prior California cannabis convictions to have those convictions automatically dismissed or redesignated, depending on the type of prior conviction and how the cannabis crime would be categorized under today’s laws.

When Proposition 64 was signed into law, it amended, among other things, provisions of the California Health and Safety Code to change how the State categorized cannabis crimes. With the passage of Proposition 64 some conduct that had previously been categorized as felonious was redesignated as misdemeanor conduct while conduct that had previously been categorized as misdemeanor conduct was redesignated as either conduct worthy of a citation or no law enforcement interaction at all. Additionally, Proposition 64 gave those with prior cannabis convictions the ability to petition the court to either redesignate their convictions pursuant to the changes noted above or have their convictions dismissed altogether if the conduct is no longer considered a crime.

While Proposition 64 was certainly a step in the right direction, petitions filed pursuant to Proposition 64 often take months for the court to process. The passage of AB 1793 means that those with qualifying convictions in their past will not have to petition the court for redesignation or dismissal. Rather, the bill requires the Department of Justice to review the records in the state summary criminal history information database and identify past convictions that are eligible for, among other things, dismissal or redesignation by no later than July 1, 2019. From there the bill requires the courts to automatically redesignate or dismiss the convictions pursuant to Proposition 64 if there are no challenges to such action from the prosecution by July 1, 2020.

Although it is unclear how long  it will actually takes the courts to redesignate or dismiss the thousands, if not millions, of the eligible convictions once the drop dead date of July 1, 2020 is reached, unlike the original language found in Proposition 64, AB 1793 provides all individuals with prior eligible convictions with the ability to have their convictions reviewed – not merely those with the time and resources to hire an attorney to file a petition on their behalf.

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