NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Hundreds of pot convictions are going up in smoke.
For the first time in New York state history, a district attorney is clearing misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession.
On Wednesday, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez asked a judge to erase 28 past convictions. Open warrants were also vacated for more than 1,400 people who skipped their court dates for possession cases.
“I do not believe these cases keep us safer. They cause a lot of distrust in our justice system,” he said. “We all here know there is a tremendous racial disparity in respect to how these cases have been enforced in the past.”
Gonzalez also said a majority of those warrants had been issued to black and Latino New Yorkers under stop-and-frisk policies.
In September, the DA announced his “Begin Again” initiative, which includes dismissing low-level possession offenses for those who requests the charges be dropped. His office will oppose requests from people with additional convictions for drug sales, certain violent felonies and sex offenses, for example.
Legal groups are ready to help people with the paperwork.
To sign up, click here. You can also call the Begin Again hotline at (718) 250-3888.