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California Cities Dropping Thousands of Marijuana Convictions

Background screening is a standard tool used during the pre-employment process. Background screening is a way for employers to make informed decisions when hiring and helps to maintain a safe working environment. 

Nine states and Washington D.C. have already legalized marijuana, creating more opportunities to discuss the status of former convictions that no longer conform to the new drug policies. Along with legalization, cities such as San Francisco implemented conviction expunging policies which remove misdemeanors and non-violent charges related to marijuana. With such drastic criminal record changes, employers are now asking how it affects their employment hiring procedures. 

Voters approved Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which took effect January 1, 2018 making California the fifth, and largest state to legalize recreational marijuana. With this, San Francisco is choosing to dismiss marijuana misdemeanor convictions, including those that date back to 1975. 




Proposition 64 not only legalizes the possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana in California, but it reduces criminal charges for various marijuana-related penalties.


The new process aims to get previous convictions reduced or reclassified to lesser offenses, with some convictions being dismissed altogether. Those who would like to attempt to get their convictions expunged have to submit a petition and might also have to hire an attorney to help them through the process. The law will also address felonies, and if appropriate, re-sentence them to misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are easier to expunge, but felonies will take more time. 

Criminal convictions can have a long-lasting impact making it difficult to obtain a job, loans, and even housing. According to statistics from the Proposition 64 Data Summary Report, about 5,000 people have already filed petitions, which is a seemingly small fraction of the number who have been arrested for marijuana offenses in California. 

California cities aren’t the only ones changing past marijuana convictions. Cities, such as Seattle, are proposing similar laws to help reduce prior marijuana penalties now that the drug has been legalized. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that the “city will move to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession.” 


How DISA Can Help

Although charges that are expunged won’t appear on your background check, DISA Global Solutions has the experience and expertise to navigate individual state and city regulations.

DISA provides a comprehensive line of background screening services that include: state driving records, social security number validity, criminal history for both county and state, employment verification, and more. These services provide the employer with the most accurate and up-to-date information available while helping to assess talent and speed up the hiring process. 

For more than 30 years, DISA has been a provider of workplace safety and compliance services. DISA helps companies make more informed staffing decisions by offering a broad array of industry-leading methodologies to make employee screening faster and more accurate. For more information about DISA call 1-800-752-6432 or email sales@disa.com.