San Francisco

Algorithm Will Help San Francisco DA Wipe Out Pot Cases

The San Francisco district attorney's office is partnering with the nonprofit Code for America to proactively wipe out thousands of marijuana convictions using a computer algorithm.

District Attorney George Gascon says in a statement Tuesday the partnership will help prosecutors identify those that are eligible under California's revised marijuana laws.

Gascon in January announced his office would dismiss and seal more than 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions dating back to 1975 after voters approved Proposition 64 legalizing recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older.

Code for America will use its algorithm to search through San Francisco's nearly 5,000 felony cases and identify those that are eligible, which will then be reviewed by a prosecutor and submitted to the court.

"You find this in jurisdictions all over the country, where it’s a significant social problem," said Executive Director and Founder of Code for America, Jennifer Pahkla. "These offenses, minor offenses, just hold people back so significantly and keep them trapped in a cycle of poverty and incarceration."

San Francisco becomes the first county in the country to deploy this system, and Gascon is challenging other counties to follow suit.

"Clearly the voters of California have spoken, they want cannabis to be legal," said Chief Marketing Officer of Apothecarium, Eliot Dobris. "And obviously no one should have a record for something that used to not be illegal, but currently is legal."

The new formula will take flight in a matter of days or weeks.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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