NEW YORK, NY — Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez will announce at a Brooklyn press conference later today an initiative to help up to 20,000 New Yorkers wipe away pass records for marijuana convictions.
“It’s a little unfair to say we’re no longer prosecuting these cases, but to have these folks carry these convictions for the rest of their lives,” Gonzalez told The Associated Press ahead of today’s press conference.
“It is encouraging to see the Brooklyn DA take this much-needed step to address the legacy of New York’s marijuana arrest crusade,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement. “Addressing low-level marijuana arrest records that continue to haunt New Yorkers for decades is a critical component of marijuana policy reform that truly acknowledges the immense harm caused by prohibition.”
“We hope this proactive shift by DA Gonzalez will spark similar efforts from District Attorneys across the state. Marijuana legalization is needed and coming, but we don’t have to wait for legalization to begin efforts to correct the serious harms that communities and individuals experienced because of biased enforcement,” Frederique added.
Earlier this year, District Attorney Gonzalez and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. decided to decline to prosecute most misdemeanor pot possession and smoking cases.
Brooklyn moving forward with expungement of past records builds on momentum in other cities around the country. In February, San Francisco’s district attorney announced that the city will clear or reduce thousands of marijuana convictions dating back decades. Seattle then made a similar announcement the following week, and the Sonoma County district attorney’s office also said it will begin clearing or reducing nearly 3,000 marijuana-related convictions.