- Justin Rausa
- (916) 426-3591
Today, Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) announced the introduction of Assembly Bill 1706, which will resolve implementation gaps in California’s cannabis record sealing law. Assemblymember Bonta is championing legislation that will ensure Californians receive the record relief to which they are entitled under the law, given the delay in timely implementation.
California has pioneered cannabis reform for years, including the legalization of adult-use in 2016 by democratic ballot initiative, and the landmark passage of AB 1793 in 2018, which required the automatic sealing of cannabis records. AB 1793 was the first legislation of its kind in the nation, and several states have followed California’s example since by adopting automatic record relief to individuals harmed by the War on Drugs. However, the process under AB 1793 has not been implemented consistently across the state.
While some counties were proactive in implementing the bill, others were not, and the statute lacks certain deadlines and oversight to ensure completion of the process. There is wide variance in county compliance with the law, resulting in many Californians not receiving the relief for which they are already eligible.
In December, Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a bulletin urging county district attorneys and courts to take the necessary steps to complete implementation of AB 1793. AB 1706 mandates that they do so, with necessary deadlines and guidance to ensure that relief is finally delivered.
“I believe in a California that keeps its promises. My bill will provide relief to the tens of thousands of deserving Californians who are still waiting. This is a must for people of color, especially for Black folks disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs, which would further support California’s reentry goals” said Assistant Speaker pro Tempore Bonta.
“Last Prisoner Project is proud to sponsor Assemblymember Mia Bonta’s leadership in advancing urgent criminal justice reforms, including the removal of unjust barriers that persist due to the historical prohibition of cannabis. As a result of California failing to complete the automatic sealings required by AB 1793, tens of thousands of people eligible for relief continue to carry the weight of these cannabis records. Other states adopting critical retroactive relief related to cannabis prohibition are looking to California to get this right. AB 1706 provides an urgently needed solution with national implications, to ensure that California delivers on its overdue promise to those harmed by the War on Drugs,” said Gracie Burger, State Policy Director at Last Prisoner Project.
AB 1706 is true to Assemblymember Bonta’s campaign promise to unravel the laws that lead to the disproportionate criminal justice impact of people of color. In a state where more than 12,000 cannabis licenses have been issued, California has a moral and economic imperative to not leave tens of thousands of residents with cannabis criminal records behind.