San Francisco move to dismiss pot charges may not work in Butte County

"If the law changes, those accused should be absolved of breaking that law," said Chico resident Robert Wysling.

Posted: Feb 1, 2018 5:21 PM

"I don't think they should be still punished, and they should be let go because if someone's doing it legally on the street, it's unfair that others are still in jail for that," said resident Justin Miller.

"If the law changes, those accused should be absolved of breaking that law,"said Chico resident Robert Wysling.

Many North State residents applaud the san francisco district attorney's plan to dismiss all misdemeanor marijuana charges, as far back as 1975.

"If these people were just charged with a crime that no longer exists? More people coming in, more responsible people for the community. I could see it being a positive impact," said Wysling.

The San Francisco D.A.'s office will also immediately begin reviewing more than 4900 felony marijuana charges and possibly reducing them to misdemeanors, a lifeline to many who are struggling to gain employment and opportunity after serving time.

"There are background checks and what not - that's an interesting grey area, if they should carry that with them," said Wysling.

"I know jobs seriously look at offender, so it's for the best that they wipe it clean," said Miller.

While San Francisco leaders urged others to follow suit, the Butte County district attorney says it's different for rural areas.

"We grow in the Butte County hills to supply the demand in San Francisco. We suffered the environmental damage that San Francisco did not. We already expended resources to repair the damage from the larger marijuana growers in the area that did significant environmental damage" said D.A. Mike Ramsey.

And there's an ethical opposition to the blanket forgiveness approach.

Some local residents argue it doesn't matter if it's illegal or not now, at the time it happened, the offender still broke the law.

Butte County's District Attorney Mike Ramsey says his office will not be following suit - they just don't have the resources to do so unsolicited.

But they're not ignoring the change in state law - in fact, about two people a week come into the court to be expunged for a felony crime that's no longer illegal, or at least not a felony.

A defendant doesn't need an attorney, they just need to fill out a form.

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