Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch abruptly changed course Monday, deciding her office will begin reviewing past marijuana-related crimes to reduce or expunge eligible convictions after saying last month it would not.
The policy shift was issued late Monday afternoon after what she said was further consideration related to the 75 or so petitions the office had already received from people seeking to dismiss a conviction, or to have a felony dropped to a misdemeanor. The chance at reclassifying these crimes was part of Proposition 64, which voters passed in 2016 to legalize recreational cannabis for adults 21 years old and up.
Ravitch, who is running for re-election this year, said in February her office would not follow the lead of other California counties, including San Francisco and San Diego, in proactively evaluating old cases. At that time, she stated her 50-attorney department did not have the resources to research an estimated 3,000 prior convictions, but would, instead, review individual petitions as they were filed.
“What I kept hearing is so many people would not go through that process, either because they didn’t understand it or they didn’t have the money, or they just didn’t have the wherewithal to follow through,” Ravitch said. “It’s still a resource issue, but we’ve juggled our resources and are doing what we can to make this a more seamless process.”