After Washington state made its recreational use legal in 2012, on Friday (Apr. 27) Seattle lawmakers reported that a motion has been filed to overturn the city’s more than 500 marijuana possession convictions.
According to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, the city hopes to erase up to 30 years of criminalization by dropping all charges against the 542 people that were convicted of misdemeanor marijuana during this span of time, The Root reports. This is the city’s attempt to rectify the wrongs caused by the infamous “War on Drugs” as this policy has recently received heavy criticism for the effects it had on people of color.
“Vacating charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession is a necessary step to correct the injustices of what was a failed war on drugs which disproportionately affected communities of color in Seattle,” Durkan stated at a February press conference.
Seattle’s inspiration came after Philadelphia District Attorney, Larry Krasner, ushered in a new policy that dropped more than 50 criminal marijuana charges against his city’s residents. Krasner explained that this will allow the Philadelphia Police Department the space to reallocate resources and “solve homicides.” This shift from focusing on menial drug use to societal betterment is also mirrored by Seattle as they hope that the vacating of these convictions will offer citizens a new life trajectory.
“The war on drugs in large part became a war on people who needed opportunity and treatment,” Durkan said. “While we cannot reverse all the harm that was done, we must do our part to give Seattle residents — including immigrants and refugees — a clean slate.”