Seattle clears marijuana convictions, following San Francisco lead

SEATTLE (AP) — Five years after Washington state legalized marijuana, Seattle officials say they’re moving to automatically clear past misdemeanor convictions for pot possession. San Francisco recently took the same step.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes say they want to help undo damage from the drug war they say resulted in unfairly high arrests targeting minority communities.

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Several U.S. cities and states have in recent years allowed people to petition to have their pot convictions vacated or sealed.

But Seattle and San Francisco appear to be the only major jurisdictions erasing convictions en masse.

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Holmes says he expects to clear 500 to 600 convictions dating to 1997.

Seattle has long had a tolerant approach to low-level pot crimes.

Holmes hasn’t prosecuted them since taking office in 2010.

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Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, left, steps back after speaking as Mayor Jenny Durkan moves to the microphone at a news conference announcing plans for the city to move to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Seattle. City Council-member Bruce Harrell looks on at right. Five years after Washington state legalized marijuana, Seattle officials say they’re moving to automatically clear past misdemeanor convictions for pot possession. San Francisco recently took the same step. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

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