San Francisco to wipe clean old dagga convictions

Protesters smoke marijuana during a demonstration against new government legislation calling for the creation of a 'weed pass'. (AFP, file)
Protesters smoke marijuana during a demonstration against new government legislation calling for the creation of a 'weed pass'. (AFP, file)

Los Angeles - The city of San Francisco is set to wipe clean criminal convictions linked to dagga offences dating back over 40 years, weeks after California legalised the drug.

California's legalisation of recreational dagga took effect at the beginning of January, making the state the largest legal market for pot in the world.

The move will affect thousands whose dagga convictions hurt their employment prospects and obtaining certain government benefits, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

READ Marijuana farming: who will benefit from legalisation?

"While drug policy on the federal level is going backward, San Francisco is once again taking the lead to undo the damage that this country's disastrous, failed drug war has had on our nation and on communities of colour in particular," said District Attorney George Gascon.

"Long ago we lost our ability to distinguish the dangerous from the nuisance, and it has broken our pocket books, the fabric of our communities, and we are no safer for it.

"A criminal conviction can be a barrier to employment, housing and other benefits, so instead of waiting for the community to take action, we're taking action for the community," he stressed.

The DA's office will review 4 940 felony convictions and dismiss and seal 3 038 misdemeanours.

Eight US states including Colorado and the federal capital Washington have already legalised recreational dagga use.

Thirty US states and Washington DC have legalised medical marijuana use.

Some states, however, still believe it is a "gateway" drug toward other, harder illegal drugs, such as heroin or cocaine.

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